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Urgings of Conscience: A Theory of Punishment

NCJ Number
J Adler
Date Published
316 pages
Rawls' theory of social contact is used as a framework to present a rectification theory of punishment.
This book examines punishment from the perspectives of the punisher and that of the offender and proposes a "Paradigm of the Conscientious Punishee," namely, a repentant wrongdoer who perceives punishment as not necessarily unpleasant but as something morally incumbent to undertake. Arguing that this paradigm needs to play a key role in the theory of punishment, punishment is defined in terms of its justificatory connection with wrongdoing. The rectification theory, which applies particularly to offenses involving basic liberties, is based on the assumption that each individual is guaranteed the right to an inviolable sphere of liberty. The person who commits an offense expands his or her sphere by arrogating excess liberties. To maintain the equality on which this theory is based, it is necessary to relinquish an equivalent body of liberties. Active service as punishment is proposed as more effective in safeguarding important rights and interests and maintaining the social contract. 368 notes and 1 appendix