Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Kantian Punishment and Retributivism: A Reply to Clark

Brooks, Thom



Michael Clark defends ‘A Non-Retributive Kantian Approach to Punishment’. This defence takes the following form. Traditional interpretations of Kant’s theory of punishment mistakenly find it retributivist. Clark argues that Kant primarily endorses deterrent punishments instead. A Kantian framework of justice need not then entail that retributivist punishments are preferable to deterrent punishments. Clark then claims that the Kantian framework used by John Rawls helps us develop a nonretributivist theory of punishment. Scanlon’s Kantian framework is alleged to support non-retributivist punishments as well. I will argue that both Kant’s and Rawls’s theories of punishment are retributivist to some extent. It may then be slightly misleading to say that by following the views of Kant and Rawls in particular we can develop a non-retributivist theory of punishment. This matter is further complicated by the fact Clark nowhere addresses Rawls’s views on punishment: Rawls endorses a mixed theory combining retributive and utilitarian features. Only Scanlon defends the use of non-retributivist punishments.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2005
Deposit Date Nov 21, 2012
Journal Ratio
Print ISSN 0034-0006
Electronic ISSN 1467-9329
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 237-245
Keywords Kant; Rawls; Scanlon; retribution; punishment
Public URL
Publisher URL 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2005.00286.x

You might also like

Downloadable Citations