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A Kantian Critique of Kant's Theory of Punishment

Jean-Christophe Merle
Law and Philosophy
Vol. 19, No. 3 (May, 2000), pp. 311-338
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3505178
Page Count: 28
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A Kantian Critique of Kant's Theory of Punishment
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Abstract

In contrast to the traditional view of Kant as a pure retributivist, the recent interpretations of Kant's theory of punishment (for instance Byrd's) propose a mixed theory of retributivism and general prevention. Although both elements are literally right, I try to show the shortcomings of each. I then argue that Kant's theory of punishment is not consistent with his own concept of law. Thus I propose another justification for punishment: special deterrence and rehabilitation. Kant's critique of utilitarianism does not affect this alternative, which moreover has textual support in Kant and is fully consistent with his concept of law.

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