Punishment, Communication, and Community

Paperback | May 23, 2003

byR. A. Duff

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The question "What can justify criminal punishment ?" becomes especially insistent at times, like our own, of penal crisis, when serious doubts are raised not only about the justice or efficacy of particular modes of punishment, but about the very legitimacy of the whole penal system. Recenttheorizing about punishment offers a variety of answers to that question-answers that try to make plausible sense of the idea that punishment is justified as being deserved for past crimes; answers that try to identify some beneficial consequences in terms of which punishment might be justified; aswell as abolitionist answers telling us that we should seek to abolish, rather than to justify, criminal punishment. This book begins with a critical survey of recent trends in penal theory, but goes on to develop an original account (based on Duff's earlier Trials and Punishments) of criminal punishment as a mode of moral communication, aimed at inducing repentance, reform, and reconciliation throughreparation-an account that undercuts the traditional controversies between consequentialist and retributivist penal theories, and that shows how abolitionist concerns can properly be met by a system of communicative punishments. In developing this account, Duff articulates the "liberalcommunitarian" conception of political society (and of the role of the criminal law) on which it depends; he discusses the meaning and role of different modes of punishment, showing how they can constitute appropriate modes of moral communication between political community and its citizens; and heidentifies the essential preconditions for the justice of punishment as thus conceived-preconditions whose non-satisfaction makes our own system of criminal punishment morally problematic. Punishment, Communication, and Community offers no easy answers, but provides a rich and ambitious ideal of what criminal punishment could be-an ideal of what criminal punishment cold be-and ideal that challenges existing penal theories as well as our existing penal theories as well as our existingpenal practices.

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The question "What can justify criminal punishment ?" becomes especially insistent at times, like our own, of penal crisis, when serious doubts are raised not only about the justice or efficacy of particular modes of punishment, but about the very legitimacy of the whole penal system. Recenttheorizing about punishment offers a variety ...

R.A. Duff was educated at the University of Oxford and has taught philosophy at the University of Sterling since 1970. He is the author of Trials and Punishments (1986), Intention, Agency, and Criminal Liability (1990), and Criminal Attempts (OUP 1996), contributing editor of Philosophy and the Criminal Law: Principle and Critique (19...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.79 inPublished:May 23, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195166663

ISBN - 13:9780195166668

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"This new book is a major contribution to our understanding of criminal justice and its contemporary politics. For every word in the book that gives succour to today's alarming trends in criminal justice policy, there are ten more that expose cant, ignorance, and confusion. For aphilosophical work to engage so closely with current politics and practice without sacrificing philosophical quality is a rare achievement indeed." --John Gardner Punishment and Society