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T. H. Green's Theory of Punishment

Brooks, Thom



Green agrees with Kant on the abstract character of moral law as categorical imperatives and that intentional dispositions are central to a moral justification of punishment. The central problem with Kant's account is that we are unable to know these dispositions beyond a reasonable estimate. Green offers a practical alternative, positing moral law as an ideal to be achieved, but not immediately enforceable through positive law. Moral and positive law are bridged by Green's theory of the common good through the dialectic of morality. Thus, Green appears to offer an alternative that remains committed to Kantian morality whilst taking proper stock of our cognitive limitations. Unfortunately, Green fails to unravel fully Kant's dichotomy of moral and positive law that mirrors Green's solution, although Green offers a number of improvements, such as the importance of the community in establishing rights and linking the severity of punishment to the extent that a criminal act threatens the continued maintenance of a system of rights.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2003
Deposit Date Nov 21, 2012
Journal History of Political Thought
Print ISSN 0143-781X
Publisher Imprint Academic
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 685-701
Keywords Kant, T.H. Green, Punishment, retributivism, Rights, Positive law, Natural law, Intentionality, Categorical imperatives, Crime, Moral law, Common good, German Idealism, Utilitarianism.
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