Republican Theory and Criminal Punishment

Philip Pettita1

a1 Australian National University


Suppose we embrace the republican ideal of freedom as non-domination: freedom as immunity to arbitrary interference. In that case those acts that call uncontroversially for criminalization will usually be objectionable on three grounds: the offender assumes a dominating position in relation to the victim, the offender reduces the range or ease of undominated choice on the part of the victim, and the offender raises a spectre of domination for others like the victim. And in that case, so it appears, the obvious role for punishment will be, so far as possible, to undo such evils: to rectify the effects of the crime that make it a repugnant republican act. This paper explores this theory of punishment as rectification, contrasting it with better established utilitarian and retributivist approaches.