Philosophy



Making More Sense of Retributivism: Desert as Responsibility and Proportionality


J. Angelo Corlett a1
a1 San Diego State University

Abstract

This paper is an elaboration of my previous paper published in Philosophy, ‘Making Sense of retributivism,’ which was a criticism of John Rawls' attempt in ‘Two Concepts of Rules’ to develop a rule utilitarian theory of punishment wherein utilitarianism is best construed as a justificatory basis for the institution of punishment and retributivism is best construed as serving as a justificatory basis for particular forms of punishment. I challenge this claim, arguing that retributivism must and can provide a justification both for the institution of punishment and for particular forms of punishment. In the end, I develop an analysis of the nature of desert as responsibility and proportionality. This notion of desert makes the best sense of retributivism.