Pro Tanto Retributivism: Judgment and the Balance of Principles in Criminal Justice
RETRIBUTIVISM: ESSAYS ON THEORY AND POLICY, pp. 129-145, Mark D. White, ed., Oxford University Press, 2011
24 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2010 Last revised: 18 Mar 2011
Date Written: September 8, 2010
In this chapter, I suggest a way that deontological retributivists can accommodate the compromises to the ideal of just punishment made necessary in the real world by scarce resources and competing societal needs and goals (a context also emphasized by Cahill and Markel in their chapters in this book). I consider recent work supporting consequentialist retributivism, in which trade-offs are allowed in order to maximize some measure of punishment or justice, but find the quantification of just punishment problematic due to the ideal or principled nature of justice inherent in the concept. Instead, I propose a practical, deontological retributivism in which the principle of just punishment is balanced with other principles and goals according to a concept of judgment drawn from the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin. After outlining the resulting “pro tanto retributivism,” I compare it to other suggestions regarding how to balance competing interests within punishment, including Michael S. Moore’s “threshold retributivism,” and argue that my conception is both more flexible while adhering to a more deontological understanding of retributivism.
Keywords: Retributivism, Immanuel Kant, Ronald Dworkin, Deontology, Michael S. Moore, Threshold Retributivism, Pro Tanto Retributivism, Consequentialism, Consequentialist Retributivism
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