Share
Explore BrainMass

Punishment

BrainMass has two detailed sections on punishment through the lenses of Hobbes and Utilitarianism, two popular perspectives on in the field.

There are some questions that should be explored when studying punishment from a sociological perspective. Is punishment for the sake of punishment justifiable? If not, when is punishment justified? What kinds of punishment? Does punishment have to serve a purpose? What do we do when the punishments society dole out stop serving their purpose?

Social Contract theory states that having a single sovereign to set and enforce punishments that are worse than living within society’s boundaries is completely necessary or men will not adjust themselves to fit the societal norms.¹

Utilitarianists argue that punishment is only justifiable when it serves a use or has value.¹

Punishment has changed in the last few hundred years. We no longer have public executions but do our states still set punishment as a means of reassurance for victims?

This is an issue in North America today. For example, a big debate right now in America is whether or not the death penalty should be an option.

Those who oppose capital punishment argue that it is morally wrong and that it serves no real purpose. It does incapacitate criminals but so does prison. Many believed it led to deterrence but most statistics show that it does not actually serve any intended purposes. From a utilitarian perspectives, capital punishment does not make sense.¹

Those in favour  of capital punishment argues that violent criminals do not deserve to live and that victims deserve to get that closure. Someone who believes in Social Contract Theory might claim that capital punishment encourages people to live within social norms.

 

 

Reference:

1. UMassAmherst. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.umass.edu/legal/Benavides/Fall2005/397G/Readings%20Legal%20397%20G/8%20David%20Garland.pdf

Categories within Punishment

Social Contract Theory

Postings: 1

Social Contract Theory is based off Hobbes' hypothetical State of Nature and is the set of rules governing behavior in any given society.

Utilitarianism

Postings: 3

Utilitarianism dictates that any proper course of action must maximize utility.

Topics in Criminal Justice for Research

Choose three topics (problems) of your personal interest related to criminal justice. Each topic should include a specific research question. A sample posting might read, "The practice of police profiling of minority motorists is a problem area within criminal justice because it calls into question the principle of equal just

Stop Discrimination.

What should law enforcement agencies do to curb discrimination against minorities? What can the public do?