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Unformatted text preview: http://pun.sagepub.com Punishment & Society DOI: 10.1177/1462474503005003004 2003; 5; 295 Punishment Society R. A. Duff Penance, Punishment and the Limits of Community http://pun.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/5/3/295 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: Punishment & Society Additional services and information for http://pun.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://pun.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://pun.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/5/3/295 Citations at SAN JOSE STATE UNIV on September 25, 2009 http://pun.sagepub.com Downloaded from Penance, punishment and the limits of community R.A. DUFF University of Stirling, Scotland, UK Abstract The thought that religious ideas could have any place in a normative theory of criminal punishment will be anathema to many liberals. I argue, however, that we can under- stand criminal punishment as a species of secular penance, as part of a communicative enterprise in which the polity seeks to involve its citizens. After explaining what a penance amounts to in this context, I meet the liberal objection that punishment as thus conceived would be an oppressive and illegitimate intrusion into the realm of moral character and conscience which is not the state’s, or the law’s, business. Finally, I raise (without offering any confident answer to) the question of whether there are any kinds of crime that are so destructive of the very possibility of political community that punishment as communicative penance is no longer morally possible, and focus in particular on the version of this question that is raised by terrorist crimes. Key Words communication • community • liberalism • penance • punishment • terrorism INTRODUCTION – LIBERALISM, THE STATE AND THE CRIMINAL LAW The question for this conference was: ‘what legitimate role, if any, may be played in the criminal law and its mechanism of punishment by religious reasons and by values often associated with religion – e.g. duties to God, love (agape), atonement, repentance, forgiveness, mercy and self-perfection and moral goodness?’. In his article (Murphy, this issue), Jeff Murphy asks how a religious believer’s beliefs should influence her ideas about criminal law and punishment; in this article, I will pursue the question of whether and how a non-believer’s secular ideas about criminal law and punishment might properly be influenced by ideas which find at least their historical origins in religious doctrines and practices. A striking feature of contemporary legal philosophy, especially for those of us who 295 PUNISHMENT & SOCIETY Copyright © SAGE Publications London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi....
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- Criminal Justice