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Punishment and Political Theory

NCJ Number
Matt Matravers
Date Published
167 pages
In these essays, moral and legal philosophers, criminologists, and political theorists address the interdependence of the study of punishment and of political theory, as well as specific issues such as freedom, autonomy, coercion, and rights that arise in both punishment and political theory.
Each of the nine essays is an example of the way in which addressing broad questions of moral and political philosophy can illuminate the study of punishment, as well as the way in which consideration of the problem of justifying punishment can be used as a lens through which to examine particular moral, metaphysical, and political theories. One of the main debates in recent political theory has been between liberals and "communitarians"; the issues that are central to that discussion emerge in these essays in the emphasis given by the contributors to the autonomy of the individual and the role of the community in the justification of punishment. New essays are presented on the compatibility of rights and utilitarianism and of autonomy and coercion in Kant's theory. The book contains an extended discussion of the concept of punishment as communication. This theme is taken up in arguments over whether punishment is communicative, in the question about what the content of any such communication could be in a pluralist society, and whether communicative accounts can make sense of the use of "hard treatment." By combining the techniques and expertise of various disciplines, the essays provide a new understanding of the problem of punishment. They also show the usefulness of the problem of punishment as a testing ground for legal and moral philosophy. Chapter footnotes and a subject index


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