CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bronsteen on Retribution's Role

Bronsteen john John Bronsteen (Loyola Chicago School of Law) has published Retribution's Role in the Indiana Law Journal. Here is the abstract:

Two main types of principle, retributive and consequentialist, have long been identified as the main approaches to justifying criminal punishment. Retributivists deem punishment justified by the wrongdoing of the offender, whereas utilitarians deem it justified by its good consequences such as deterring future crime. Over the past fifty years, each has spent decades as the dominant theory, and many hybrid theories have also been advanced. But few, if any, of the hybrid approaches have valued heavily both retributive and consequentialist considerations while locating the particular justificatory role each category plays. This Article points in that direction by reframing the central question of punishment justification as two questions: Why does the state have a right to punish, and why does it choose to exercise that right?
The first question is answered most naturally by retributive considerations, whereas the second identifies the most natural space for utilitarian values. This framing device, it is hoped, resolves some of the disputes between retributivists and utilitarians while sharpening the focus on those that remain.

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