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The Moral Punishment Instinct - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Moral Punishment Instinct

Jan-Willem van Prooijen


Across time and cultures, ranging from ancient hunter-gatherers, to holy scriptures, to contemporary courts of law, it has been common for people to punish offenders. Furthermore, punishment is not restricted to criminal offenders but emerges in all spheres of social life, including corporations, public institutions, traffic, sports matches, schools, and parenting. Why is punishment so ubiquitous? One cannot find a satisfactory explanation for the universality of punishment in the social science literature focusing on human morality in general. Punishment also occurs among nonhuman animals for ... More

Keywords: Punishment, revenge, cooperation, instinct, evolution, emotion, utility, behavioral control, groups, parochial altruism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780190609979
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190609979.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jan-Willem van Prooijen, author
Associate Professor in Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam