Two Kinds of Retributivism
This chapter argues that the dominant classificatory framework of theories of punishment that had become orthodox by the latter decades of the 20th century is in peril. That taxonomy was centred on a two-part distinction between consequentialist and retributivist justifications for punishment. Consequentialist theories justify punishment by the good that punishment produces, whereas retributivist theories see punishment as justified by reference to the wrongdoers' supposed ill-desert — the claimed fact that wrongdoers deserve to suffer, or to be punished, or something of this sort. This framework is no longer accurate because retributivism has increasingly morphed into an account that rests upon a justificatory structure that is plainly consequentialist. That is, it seems increasingly fitting to view retributivism as a subtype of consequentialist justifications for punishment — a ‘retributivist consequentialism’ that can be meaningfully contrasted with varieties of ‘non-retributivist consequentialism’ — rather than as an alternative to them. Some will think this a contradiction in terms, that retributivism is non-consequentialist by definition. On this view, ‘retributivist consequentialism’ is oxymoronic. It is argued that that is not so.
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