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Retributivism Has a Past – Has It a Future? - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Retributivism Has a Past: Has It a Future?

Michael Tonry


The fundamental contrast between the ideas that punishment is morally justified because people have behaved wrongly (retributivist), and that punishment is morally justified only when it has good consequences (consequentialist/utilitarian), has long existed and most likely always will. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, retributivist ways of thinking became much more influential than they had been for the preceding century, but it is clear now that no paradigm shift from consequentialist to retributivist ideas occurred, and that thinking about punishment is in a period of flux. This book recons ... More

Keywords: punishment, moral justification, retributivist, consequentialist, utilitarian, punishment theory, liberty, collective interests

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780199798278
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199798278.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Michael Tonry, editor
Senior Fellow, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, Free University Amsterdam