CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Calo on Empirical Desert

Calo zachary Zachary R. Calo (Valparaiso University School of Law) has posted Empirical Desert and the Moral Economy of Punishment (Arizona State Law Journal, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper considers Paul Robinson's theory of empirical desert as an argument for moving beyond the debate between utilitarian and retributivist accounts of punishment. It is argued that empirical desert, in its attempt to replace philosophy with the insights of the social and biological sciences, fails to ground the foundational act of punishment in an adequate theoretical warrant. A particular problem confronting empirical desert is that while Robinson shifts the locus of punishment from theory to the intuitions of the relevant community, he does not adequately account for the dynamic process by which communities shape and structure their internal moral life. As such, the normative nature of punishment is lost in an attempt to salvage it.

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