- The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics
- Notes On The Contributors
- Reproductive Technology
- Environmental Ethics
- Gender and Sexual Discrimination
- Race and Racial Discrimination
- Affirmative Action
- People with Disabilities
- Freedom of Speech and Religion
- Legal Paternalism
- Economic Justice
- Intergenerational Justice
- Corporate Responsibility
- National Autonomy
- International Economic Justice
- World Hunger
- Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
- Capital Punishment
Abstract and Keywords
This article's central question is: ‘What can justify a system of criminal punishment?’ That question is familiar, but merits clarification. The article focuses on criminal punishment imposed by criminal courts for criminal offences. So narrow a focus, though typical of penal philosophy, requires justification. First, it ignores other kinds of punishment, formal and informal, imposed by other agencies: by institutions or professions, in the family. What justifies this focus is that criminal punishment is distinctive in involving the state's exercise of its dominant coercive power over its citizens, and thus raises the distinctive question of what penal powers (if any) the state should have, and how they should be exercised. Secondly, it ignores other aspects of criminal justice, and the complex processes from which punishment flows — the investigation of crime, the criminal procedure of trial and conviction.
R. A. Duff was educated at Oxford and (after a visiting year at the University of Washington) has taught philosophy at the University of Stirling since 1970. He held a British Academy Research Readership, 1989–91, and holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, 2002–5. His publications include Trials and Punishments(1986), Intention, Agency, and Criminal Liability (1990), Criminal Attempts (1996), and Punishment, Communication, and Community (2000).
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.