CrimProf Blog

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

Monday, December 5, 2022

Husak on Punishment Pluralism

Douglas Husak (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Rutgers University) has posted Punishment Pluralism on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

I defend the thesis that an adequate justification of punishment must be pluralistic. I do so partly by clarifying what pluralism is and what it is not. In addition, I marshal some considerations in favor of pluralism by arguing that monistic alternatives are unsatisfactory.

Most of my argument is directed against the retributive monistic view that a state is justified in imposing punishments that conform to a principle of retributive justice. Conformity with this principle, in turn, is secured by treating offenders as they deserve. The impersonal good or value of achieving such conformity, it is alleged, outweighs or negates any disvalue that is brought about when punishment is imposed. My main argument against this monistic view is that value is created when a state conforms to a principle of retributive justice by inflicting a punishment that is deserved, but that the amount or quantum of value that is gained by so doing is not ordinarily of sufficient weight to justify punishment.

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