Does the Justification of Punishment Rest on a Mistake

  Leo Zaibert 
H.L.A. Hart Visiting Fellow (Union College)



Over half a century ago, H.L.A. Hart rejected the idea that punishment could be justified by attending to one supreme value. The rejection gave rise to a flurry of efforts to justify punishment by combining essentially two supreme moral values. Neither Hart nor his many followers, however, understood the full import of the rejection that so energized them. What is needed is a much more decisive rethinking of our approach to the justification of punishment – one that takes into account many different types of values. I thus suggest that punishment theorists could take a cue from general moral philosophy, where such richer approaches are familiar. In closing, I discuss one representative and influential effort to defend the self-consciously narrow status quo in punishment theory and explain why I do not find it compelling.


Thursday 14 November, 5:30pm (coffee and tea at 5:15pm)

 Law Faculty Senior Common Room


Please find attached a handout for the paper.