a1 Virginia Commonwealth University
What I call the Just Distribution theory of punishment holds that the justification of punishment is that it rectifies the social distribution of benefits and burdens which has been upset by the offender. I argue that a recent version of this theory is no more viable than earlier versions. Like them, it fails in its avowed intention to deliver fundamental intuitions about crime and punishment. The root problem is its foundation in Hart's Principle of Fair Play, a foundation which, I argue, is inappropriate for a theory of punishment.
1 An earlier version of this paper was read at the Pacific meeting of the American Philosophical Association in 1995. I am very grateful to my respondent on that occasion, Andrew Cross, who forced me to make the argument much clearer; and to Michael Davis, Brad Hooker, Trenton Merricks, Gene Mills and Peter Vallentyne, for helpful comments. The paper was written with the help of a Grant-in-Aid from Virginia Commonwealth University, for which I am very grateful.