Thursday, September 13, 2012

St John's College, Oxford - many thanks!

I have enjoyed an academic scholarship at St John's College, Oxford over the summer and must thank the college for their terrific hospitality - and for permitting me to work in such an inspiring environment. Readers may know that my new monograph, Punishment, is headed to a bookstore near you now. This book is a critical examination of the leading theories about punishment and their (often problematic) relation to practical case studies. I defend the position of a "unified theory of punishment" introduced in this book and note its pedigree in the writings of Locke, Hegel, and several British Idealists.

My research project at St John's was work on a new research monograph tentatively entitled Beyond Retribution: The Unified Theory of Punishment that will offer the first full length defence of my new theory of punishment. It seeks to close a gap between theory and practice. Most theorists defend a single aim for punishment - such as retribution, crime reduction or offender rehabilitation - and reject what I call penal pluralism, namely, the idea that punishment has multiple penal principles. Sentencing practices often adopt penal pluralism. Examples include the Model Penal Code, US Federal sentencing guidelines, individual US state sentencing commission guidelines, and sentencing guidelines in the UK. Penal pluralism is rejected because it is thought incoherent and indefensible. My project is to demonstrate how pluralism might be defended in a coherent and compelling new account that closes the gap between theory and practice - and helps illuminate how we might further improve our practices.

For a brief look at the unified theory, see my New Waves in Ethics or Punishment. Expect to see much more and soon....

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