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The Moral Punishment Instinct$
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Jan-Willem van Prooijen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190609979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190609979.001.0001

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Revenge, Gossip, and Restorative Justice

Revenge, Gossip, and Restorative Justice

(p.225) 9 Revenge, Gossip, and Restorative Justice
The Moral Punishment Instinct

Jan-Willem van Prooijen

Oxford University Press

Besides formal third-party punishment, punishment can take alternative forms such as revenge, gossip, and restorative justice. This chapter examines these alternative punishment forms in light of the idea that punishment is a basic moral instinct. Revenge means that the victim (or people close to the victim) directly punishes the perpetrator. Revenge has a behavioral-control function similar to third-party punishment’s, but it is less successful due to a lack of legitimacy and proportionality. Gossip enables group members to harm an offender’s reputation. These reputational concerns stimulate cooperation, even among the most powerful members of the group, if group members are likely to gossip. Finally, although restorative justice (e.g., healing an injustice through victim–offender mediation) is frequently portrayed as alternative to punishment, it actually works best if it contains punishment. Restorative justice is mostly an improved procedure to implement punishment, increasing fairness and hence cooperation.

Keywords:   Revenge, third- vs. second-party punishment, legitimacy, gossip, reputation, restorative justice, bilateral process, apology, fairness

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