ThirdPaperRetributivistPunishment - Matthew McDonald TA:...

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Matthew McDonald TA: Andrew Moon Insert Catchy Title Here In this paper I will argue that the retributivist theory of punishment is superior to the rule utilitarian theory of punishment. I will do this by first explaining each theory, and give each theory's strengths and weaknesses. I will then give my own assessment of each theory, and explain why the retributivist theory is preferable to the rule utilitarian theory. Retributivists base their theory of punishment on the following principles. An act of punishment is morally justified if and only if: 1. The person punished has been convicted of a crime. 2. The crime was an intentional violation of a morally permissible law. 3. The punishment is appropriate for the crime. A punishment is considered to be appropriate when it is just, as determined by the wrongness of the crime and the criminals degree of responsibility. [Notes] Essentially, a Retributivist believes that if someone is guilty of a crime, then it is morally correct to punish that person with the appropriate punishment according to the law. Retributivists believe that criminals are self-governing individuals who have earned a penalty that justice requires us to provide, and in providing the penalty we actually show respect for their dignity. Another way at looking at justice from a retributivist's point of view would be to imagine that an evil puts society out of balance, and the only way to put society in balance is for an equal evil to be exacted upon the criminal. Hence the phrase, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. ..”.
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One of Retributivism's strong points is that it explains how it is wrong to punish the innocent and to give excessive or overly lenient punishments; this is actually one of the basic tenets of Retributivism, and is found in nearly every modern society today. Another strength of Retributivism is that it sees criminals as free, responsible agents who earn their punishment. Retributivism's third strength is that it actually explains how punishment is a good thing; after all, in punishing criminals we are actually showing
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course PHIL phil 100 taught by Professor Markovitch during the Spring '08 term at Missouri (Mizzou).

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ThirdPaperRetributivistPunishment - Matthew McDonald TA:...

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