• Two Theories of Deterrent Punishment

    Author(s):
    Jacob Bronsther
    Date:
    2018
    Group(s):
    MSU Law Faculty Repository
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/2d76-x475
    Abstract:
    This Article inquires into the justification of state punishment. In developing this question it relies upon two premises. The first premise is that, to justify its extreme institutional costs, state punishment must deter crime to some sufficient degree.1 The second premise is a moral principle. It is a variation of the prohibition on using people as a mere means to the greater good2 : We must not sacrifice individuals as a means of mitigating harms or threats for which they have no responsibility. This "non-sacrifice principle," in one version or another, founds the liberal legal order and its conception of the individual as an inviolable bearer of rights. 3 The challenge-I think the central challenge of criminal law theory-is to explain how we can accept both premises and justify state punishment. For deterrent punishment seems to violate the non-sacrifice principle rather straightforwardly, as the state inflicts suffering upon an offender as a prudential warning to would-be future offenders, for whom the offender has no responsibility. I call this the "Means Problem." Why, if at all, is the state entitled to use offenders as a means of bringing about general deterrence?
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    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 weeks ago
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