In making progress with the justification of punishment it is important to distinguish between the immediate aims of punishment and the deeper philosophical commitments which underpin its justification. The immediate aims of punishment can usefully be separated into things of intrinsic value and things of instrumental value. Different theories justify punishment by appealing to these different values. Retributivists think that punishment is to be justified in virtue of the fact that the suffering of offenders is good in itself. Instrumentalists think that punishment is to be justified in virtue of its good effects – most importantly in reducing the crime rate. This debate is to be distinguished from the debate between consequentialism and non-consequentialism. Retributivists are commonly associated with non-consequentialism and instrumentalists are commonly associated with consequentialism. But these associations are philosophically weak. Retributivists may be consequentialists and instrumentalists may be non-consequentialists.
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