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The Ends of HarmThe Moral Foundations of Criminal Law$
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Victor Tadros

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554423.001.0001

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Against Desert

Against Desert

(p.60) 4 Against Desert
The Ends of Harm

Victor Tadros

Oxford University Press

This chapter mounts a more aggressive argument against retributivism. It aims to demonstrate that the suffering of wrongdoers is not intrinsically good. Furthermore, even if it is good, it would be wrong for the state to bring about the suffering of offenders for this reason. One argument aims to show that desert is incompatible with the best understanding of free will. A second suggests that criminal wrongdoing does not provide an attractive basis for desert. A third argument suggests that a closer examination of the harms typically imposed by punishment cannot plausibly good. A fourth argument indicates that it would be wrong for the state to make offenders suffer simply because their suffering is good in itself. Finally, an alternative account of retributivism, based on deprivation of rights, is explored and significant difficulties with this alternative are exposed.

Keywords:   desert, retributivism, free will, rights

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