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Vol 21 No 11 Nov/Dec 2016

Book of the Month

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Criminal Injuries Compensation Claims

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Honor and Revenge: A Theory of Punishment


ISBN13: 9789400748446
Published: August 2012
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Country of Publication: Netherlands
Format: Hardcover
Price: £103.50



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This book addresses the problem of justifying the institution of criminal punishment. It examines the “paradox of retribution”: the fact that we cannot seem to reject the intuition that punishment is morally required, and yet we cannot (even after two thousand years of philosophical debate) find a morally legitimate basis for inflicting harm on wrongdoers.

The book comes at a time when a new “abolitionist” movement has arisen, a movement that argues that we should give up the search for justification and accept that punishment is morally unjustifiable and should be discontinued immediately.

This book, however, proposes a new approach to the retributive theory of punishment, arguing that it should be understood in its traditional formulation that has been long forgotten or dismissed: that punishment is essentially a defense of the honor of the victim. Properly understood, this can give us the possibility of a legitimate moral justification for the institution of punishment.