Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Defence of Punishment and the Unified Theory of Punishment: A Reply

. . . can be found here at SSRN to download. The abstract:

Punishment is a major contribution to contemporary debates concerning the philosophy of punishment. The book advances three overlapping aims. The first is to provide the most comprehensive coverage of this fast moving field. While there are several excellent introductions available, they have become dated without substantive coverage of recent work on communicative theories of punishment or restorative justice, for example. A second aim of the book is to advance a new theory—the ‘unified theory’ of punishment—as a distinctive and compelling alternative to existing approaches. The third and final aim is to consider the relation of theory to practice in order to highlight the conceptual as well as more practical challenges each penal theory faces.

Mark Tunick raises several concerns with my analysis in Punishment. While noting is ‘in many respects an engaging work’, Tunick expresses reservations about my treatment of several penal theories, especially retributivism. He is especially critical of my unified theory of punishment and he has doubts even of the possible coherence of such an account. These are important issues and I am delighted to have this opportunity to clarify my position. I will begin by addressing Tunick’s criticisms of my treatment of some penal theories in general before turning to the central issue about the plausibility—even possibility—of a unified theory of punishment. Much of the concerns raised appear to rest on misinterpretations of my arguments, a problem that I have encountered before from Tunick in his review of my previous book which I also address.

The piece is forthcoming at Criminal Law and Philosophy.

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