Ethics
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAging, Biotechnology, and the FutureAlbert Schweitzer's Reverence for LifeAlphavilleAltruismAmerican EugenicsAmerican PsychosisAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy And a Time to DieAnimal LessonsAnimal RightsAnimals Like UsApplied Ethics in Mental Health CareAre Women Human?Aristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAssisted Suicide and the Right to DieAutonomyAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismAutonomy, Consent and the LawBabies by DesignBackslidingBad PharmaBad SoulsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBeauty JunkiesBefore ForgivingBeing AmoralBeing YourselfBending Over BackwardsBending ScienceBernard WilliamsBetter Humans?Better Than WellBeyond ChoiceBeyond GeneticsBeyond HatredBeyond Humanity?Beyond LossBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond the DSM StoryBias in Psychiatric DiagnosisBioethicsBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics at the MoviesBioethics Beyond the HeadlinesBioethics Critically ReconsideredBioethics in a Liberal SocietyBioethics in the ClinicBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical Research and BeyondBiosBioscience EthicsBipolar ChildrenBluebirdBodies out of BoundsBodies, Commodities, and BiotechnologiesBody BazaarBoundBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBraintrustBrandedBreaking the SilenceBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyCapital PunishmentCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsChallenging the Stigma of Mental IllnessCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionChild Well-BeingChildrenChildren's RightsChoosing ChildrenChoosing Not to ChooseClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical EthicsCloningClose toYouCoercion as CureCoercive Treatment in PsychiatryCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy Comfortably NumbCommonsense RebellionCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentComprehending CareConducting Insanity EvaluationsConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConflict of Interest in the ProfessionsConsuming KidsContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContentious IssuesContesting PsychiatryCrazy in AmericaCreating CapabilitiesCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical Perspectives in Public HealthCritical PsychiatryCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCutting to the CoreCyborg CitizenDamaged IdentitiesDeaf Identities in the MakingDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDebating Same-Sex MarriageDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecoding the Ethics CodeDefining DifferenceDefining Right and Wrong in Brain ScienceDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDelusions of GenderDementiaDemocracy in What State?Demons of the Modern WorldDescriptions and PrescriptionsDesert and VirtueDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital HemlockDigital SoulDignityDisability BioethicsDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisordered Personalities and CrimeDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDoes Feminism Discriminate against Men?Does Torture Work?Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing CountriesDrugs and JusticeDworkin and His CriticsDying in the Twenty-First CenturyEarly WarningEconomics and Youth ViolenceEmbodied RhetoricsEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotional ReasonEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmpathyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEncountering NatureEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEngendering International HealthEnhancing EvolutionEnhancing Human CapacitiesEnoughEros and the GoodErotic InnocenceErotic MoralityEssays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEthical Choices in Contemporary MedicineEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEthical Issues in Behavioral ResearchEthical Issues in Dementia CareEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEthical LifeEthical Reasoning for Mental Health ProfessionalsEthical TheoryEthical WillsEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthicsEthicsEthicsEthics and AnimalsEthics and ScienceEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting RealGluttonyGood WorkGoodness & AdviceGreedGroups in ConflictGrowing Up GirlGut FeminismHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHandbook for Health Care Ethics CommitteesHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of PsychopathyHappinessHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHard FeelingsHard LuckHardwired BehaviorHarmful ThoughtsHeal & ForgiveHealing PsychiatryHealth Care Ethics for PsychologistsHeterosyncraciesHistorical and Philosophical Perspectives on Biomedical EthicsHoly WarHookedHookedHow Can I Be Trusted?How Propaganda WorksHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Make Opportunity EqualHow Universities Can Help Create a Wiser WorldHow We HopeHow We Think About DementiaHuman BondingHuman EnhancementHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman TrialsHumanism, What's That?Humanitarian ReasonHumanityHumanizing MadnessI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Was WrongIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf That Ever Happens to MeImproving Nature?In Defense of FloggingIn Defense of SinIn Love With LifeIn Our Own ImageIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Name of IdentityIn the Wake of 9/11In Two MindsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchInnovation in Medical TechnologyInside Assisted LivingInside EthicsIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIntensive CareIs Human Nature Obsolete?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is There a Duty to Die?Is There an Ethicist in the House?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJudging Children As ChildrenJust a DogJust BabiesJust CareJustice for ChildrenJustice for HedgehogsJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeJustifiable ConductKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Theory of VirtueKids of CharacterKilling McVeighLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLaw and the BrainLearning About School ViolenceLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLegal and Ethical Aspects of HealthcareLegal Aspects of Mental CapacityLegal ConceptionsLegalizing ProstitutionLet Them Eat ProzacLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberal EugenicsLife After FaithLife at the BottomLife, Sex, and IdeasListening to the WhispersLiving ProfessionalismLosing Matt ShepardLostLuckyMad in AmericaMad PrideMadhouseMaking Another World PossibleMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMalignantMasculinity Studies and Feminist TheoryMeaning and Moral OrderMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedical Research for HireMedicalized MasculinitiesMedically Assisted DeathMeditations for the HumanistMelancholia and MoralismMental Health Professionals, Minorities and the PoorMental Illness, Medicine and LawMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMetaethical SubjectivismMill's UtilitarianismMind FieldsMind WarsMind WarsModern Theories of JusticeModernity and TechnologyMoney ShotMonsterMoral Acquaintances and Moral DecisionsMoral ClarityMoral CultivationMoral Development and RealityMoral Dilemmas in Real LifeMoral DimensionsMoral EntanglementsMoral FailureMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral MindsMoral OriginsMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMoral ParticularismMoral PerceptionMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RealismMoral RelativismMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral Status and Human LifeMoral StealthMoral Theory at the MoviesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMoral, Immoral, AmoralMoralismMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMore Than HumanMotive and RightnessMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurder in the InnMy Body PoliticMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Sister's KeeperMy Sister's KeeperMy WayNano-Bio-EthicsNarrative MedicineNarrative ProsthesisNatural Ethical FactsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalized BioethicsNeither Bad nor MadNeoconservatismNeonatal BioethicsNeurobiology and the Development of Human MoralityNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew Waves in EthicsNew Waves in MetaethicsNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNo Child Left DifferentNo Impact ManNormative EthicsNormativityNothing about us, without us!Oath BetrayedOf War and LawOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn EvilOn Human RightsOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOn the TakeOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne ChildOne Nation Under TherapyOne World NowOur Bodies, Whose Property?Our Bodies, Whose Property?Our Daily MedsOur Faithfulness to the PastOur Posthuman FutureOut of EdenOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPassionate DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRefuting Peter Singer's Ethical TheoryRelative JusticeRelativism and Human RightsReligion ExplainedReprogeneticsRescuing JeffreyResponsibilityResponsibility and PsychopathyResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsResponsible GeneticsRethinking CommodificationRethinking Informed Consent in BioethicsRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeReturn to ReasonRevolution in PsychologyRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRisk and Luck in Medical EthicsRobert NozickRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Rule of Law, Misrule of MenRunning on RitalinSatisficing and MaximizingSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and EthicsScience in the Private InterestScience, Policy, and the Value-Free IdealScience, Seeds and CyborgsScratching the Surface of BioethicsSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSeeing the LightSelf-ConstitutionSelf-Made MadnessSelf-Trust and Reproductive AutonomySentimental RulesSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex OffendersSexual DevianceSexual EthicsSexual PredatorsSexualized BrainsShaping Our SelvesShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShunnedSick to Death and Not Going to Take It AnymoreSickoSide EffectsSidewalk StoriesSister CitizenSkeptical FeminismSocial Inclusion of People with Mental IllnessSocial JusticeSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSovereign VirtueSpiral of EntrapmentSplit DecisionsSticks and StonesStories MatterSubjectivity and Being SomebodySuffering, Death, and IdentitySuicide ProhibitionSurgery JunkiesSurgically Shaping ChildrenTaking Morality SeriouslyTaming the Troublesome ChildTechnology and the Good Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Criminal BrainThe Decency WarsThe Difficult-to-Treat Psychiatric PatientThe Disability PendulumThe Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to ConfrontationThe Domain of ReasonsThe Double-Edged HelixThe Duty to ProtectThe Emotional Construction of MoralsThe End of Ethics in a Technological SocietyThe End of Stigma?The Essentials of New York Mental Health LawThe Ethical BrainThe Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health SciencesThe Ethics of BioethicsThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of SightseeingThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Ethics of the LieThe Ethics of TransplantsThe Ethics ToolkitThe Evolution of Mental Health LawThe Evolution of MoralityThe FamilyThe Fat Studies ReaderThe Forgiveness ProjectThe Form of Practical KnowledgeThe Fountain of YouthThe Freedom ParadoxThe Future of Assisted Suicide and EuthanasiaThe Future of Human NatureThe Good BookThe Good LifeThe Great BetrayalThe Handbook of Disability StudiesThe Healing VirtuesThe High Price of MaterialismThe History of Human RightsThe HorizonThe Idea of JusticeThe Ideal of NatureThe Illusion of Freedom and EqualityThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Importance of Being UnderstoodThe Insanity OffenseThe Joy of SecularismThe Language PoliceThe Last Normal ChildThe Last UtopiaThe Limits of MedicineThe LobotomistThe Love CureThe Lucifer EffectThe Manual of EpictetusThe Mark of ShameThe Meaning of NiceThe Medicalization of SocietyThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind Has MountainsThe Modern Art of DyingThe Modern SavageThe Moral ArcThe Moral BrainThe Moral Demands of MemoryThe Moral FoolThe Moral MindThe Moral Psychology HandbookThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Good You Can DoThe Myth of ChoiceThe Myth of the Moral BrainThe Nature of NormativityThe New Disability HistoryThe New Genetic MedicineThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Offensive InternetThe Origins of FairnessThe Oxford Handbook of Animal EthicsThe Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of LifeThe Perfect BabyThe Philosophy of NeedThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of PsychiatryThe Politics Of LustThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Price of PerfectionThe Price of TruthThe Problem of PunishmentThe Prosthetic ImpulseThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe PsychopathThe Purity MythThe Pursuit of PerfectionThe Relevance of Philosophy to LifeThe Right Road to Radical FreedomThe Right to Be ParentsThe Righteous MindThe Root of All EvilThe Rules of InsanityThe Second SexismThe Second-Person StandpointThe Silent World of Doctor and PatientThe Sleep of ReasonThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Speed of DarkThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story of Cruel and UnusualThe Story WithinThe Stubborn System of Moral ResponsibilityThe Suicide TouristThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Therapy of DesireThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Triple HelixThe Trolley Problem MysteriesThe Trouble with DiversityThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Ugly LawsThe Varieties of Religious ExperienceThe Virtues of HappinessThe Virtuous Life in Greek EthicsThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Voice of Breast Cancer in Medicine and BioethicsThe War Against BoysThe War for Children's MindsThe Whole ChildThe Woman RacketThe Worldwide Practice of TortureTherapy with ChildrenThieves of VirtueThree Generations, No ImbecilesTimes of Triumph, Times of DoubtTolerance Among The VirtuesTolerance and the Ethical LifeTolerationToxic PsychiatryTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreatment Kind and FairTrusting on the EdgeTry to RememberUltimate JudgementUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUndermining ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!

Related Topics
PunishmentReview - Punishment
The Supposed Justifications Revisited
by Ted Honderich
Pluto Press, 2006
Review by John Williams, Ph.D.
Nov 21st 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 47)

Ted Honderich's Punishment: The Supposed Justifications Revisited adds to his classic Punishment in addressing itself to an audience of more recent political times, notably the UK under New Labour and post-September 11 USA. It includes a new concluding chapter.

Punishment involves a deliberate infliction of suffering or deprivation. Suffering and deprivation are in themselves bad things. So we need a justification for punishing an offender. What is it? Those who say 'Because she deserved it' look back to the past and appeal to desert. Those who say 'Because it will reduce crime' look forward to the consequences and are typically utilitarians -- those who think that an action is right just in case it brings more benefit to society in general than would be the case otherwise. Honderich argues persuasively that neither answer will do. He also rejects other sorts of answers such as 'It sends a message' or 'It reminds her of what the right values are' or the reformist's 'It will make her (or others) a better person'. He is critical of answers that are mixtures of the preceding sorts of answers. He observes that any justification of punishment must account for the grim fact that a high proportion of people in prison are mentally ill. Yet consistently with this, he effectively debunks the idea that all offenders are ipso facto mentally ill and so should be treated, not punished.

Honderich argues that our judgments about what justifies punishment in society are inseparable from our judgment of what the decent society is. For him, punishing an offender is justified just in case it is best judged a rational step towards keeping people from living bad lives, where a bad life is roughly defined in terms of benefits such as longevity, bodily well-being, freedom and power, respect and self-respect, relationships with others and culture, including knowledge in place of ignorance. He accepts determinism -- that every event has a cause that makes that it inevitable that the event take place. Yet he argues that we may still sensibly take the attitude that actions are voluntary, so people can have moral credit for their actions and offenders may be morally blameworthy.

Honderich starts by defining punishment as

an authority's infliction of a penalty, something intended to cause distress or deprivation, on an offender or someone else found to have committed an offence, an action of the kind prohibited by the law

where to be found to have offended is to be found to have

actually broken a rule out of intention or negligence, somehow freely and responsibly, or broken certain rules without that, or have occupied such a position as employer with respect to a rule breaker in either of the preceding senses.

While quite a mouthful, this realistic definition avoids any reference to desert and so keeps the playing field level for various supposed justifications of punishment.

Honderich then considers numerous backward-looking justifications of punishment -- those that appeal to what the offender has done, including, but not exhausting, those that appeal to desert, in other words retributive justifications. He argues convincingly that none of these will work. Either they are circular or they reduce to a claim for which no reason has been given, one we may reject. If we say that it is right to punish an offender because she deserves it, what answer can we give to question 'What makes her deserve it'? Not 'Because it is right'.

Some of the backward-looking justifications that Honderich rejects are as follows. Jurisprudents often say that punishment is deserved because it is linked to a worked-out system of penalties and offences. But a wicked system of penalties and offences, such as Nazi Germany's, would not make her deserve punishment.

A retributivist might say that there are intrinsic goods, each corresponding to the offender's sufferings that are 'proportional' to the offence. But this does not capture what is substantial about retributivism. In any case why should we accept it? We could try saying that desert amounts to imposing a penalty of same kind as the offence, but that would rule out justifications and excuses of the offence.

We might say that the offender deserves the penalty just in case the culpability of her behavior is equivalent to the distress of the penalty. But culpability depends on the extent of harm she has done and the degree to which she is responsible for it, so culpability is incommensurate with distress.

Jurisprudents may say that an offender deserves the penalty, say five years in jail, when his offence, say rape, falls into a broad category all members of which attract the same penalty. But why does this category justify the penalty? Not because jurisprudents have decided that five years is the right penalty for rape, on pain of circularity.

We might claim that the offender establishes the principle that it is right to injure others and so should accept, if rational, that the principle be applied to herself. But even if she has a right to be injured, this does not mean that we have a duty to act on her right. A related idea is that the offender has consented to punishment in the sense that had she thought about it sensibly, she would have agreed to the social arrangements under which she is now being punished. But why should we accept this hypothetical claim?

Only slightly more promising is the idea that to offend is to consent to be used as a means to the prevention of offences. Honderich points out that the offender does not consent to his punishment but only to her loss of immunity to it.

What about the idea that an offender (say someone who steals food) freely sheds himself of a burden (that of self-denial) that results in an unequal distribution of burdens (of self-denial)? Punishment corrects this unequal distribution and encourages others to stick to it. But it is unlikely that the distribution was ever equal in the first place. The rich have lighter burdens of self-denial than the poor.

Honderich thinks that there is only one idea in the backward-looking justifications of punishment that has any substance. That is the idea that the offender deserves her punishment because

The penalty satisfies grievances owed to the offence, and does neither less nor more than satisfy these grievances, and in doing so it is in accordance with a system that connects penalties with offences by way of grievances.

His objection to this is that it recommends a certain good, namely the satisfaction of people who have grievances, be gained at too great a cost, namely the denial of great goods to people. To this I might add my own objection: suppose that we execute a murderer when nobody has any grievance and the next day execute another, when there are plenty of grievances? Must we admit that we are wrong today but not tomorrow?

Turning to utilitarian justifications of punishment, Honderich shows how clear these are in comparison to backward-looking justifications. He provides a nice analysis of the factual claim that punishment prevents crime by deterring others that would otherwise have committed offences. In so doing he points out an advantage had by the utilitarian that is easily overlooked, that the utilitarian can explain the fact that punishment reduces offences, not by deterring would-be offenders who are caused to think twice, but by reinforcing an unreflective obedience to law. The empirical question of how well punishment deters would-be offenders is very difficult to answer. To that difficulty I add my own: in measuring deterrence, what can we know about those who have been deterred from committing an offence who spend their whole lives crime-free? Nothing of course, yet wouldn't we need to know this in order to assess the effect of deterrence?

Honderich has a decisive objection to the utilitarian justification of punishment. This is not that the utilitarian must treat people as means rather than ends, for Honderich argues deftly that this isn't so. Instead it is that the utilitarian is committed to wrongful victimizations. Against the 'stout and graceful philosopher Lord Quinton' who would object that it is impossible to punish the innocent on a definition of punishment like Honderich's, he points out that this difficulty is merely terminological (as Hart would say, a 'definitional stop'), since talk of victimization may replace that of punishment. The utilitarian must say that a person must be punished (or penalized, when she is innocent) if the total resulting balance of satisfaction is greater than that which would result if she were not punished, regardless of how these satisfactions are distributed among a population. But we may imagine a possible case in which a penalty is imposed on an innocent person that causes her great distress, where the distress that would occur were she not penalized would be greater in total, yet so widely and thinly spread that very many people suffer trivial amounts of distress, such as not getting a cup of coffee in the morning. The penalty is wrong, or as the desert-theorist might say, unfair because undeserved. Even if such circumstances are unlikely to arise, the utilitarian is committed to doing something wrong in them, in virtue of a rule that he uses in all circumstances, including ordinary ones. That is enough to show that the utilitarian has the wrong moral compass, even in most ordinary circumstances. But it would be a mistake to think that this vindicates the desert theorist: a reason against victimization need not be a reason for punishment.

Honderich seems right in making this the most serious objection to the utilitarian justification of punishment. But perhaps the utilitarian might reply by claiming that in the long run, avoiding such thinly spread inequalities of distributed satisfaction itself produces more total satisfaction than not avoiding them.

Will we fare any better with the idea that what justifies punishing an offender is moral reformation? No. The victimization objection still bites since we may coherently imagine a wrongful victimization would improve the moral character of many others. Moreover we cannot justify punishment in terms of an improvement of the moral character of members of society unless we justify the claim that it really would be an improvement. Punishing offenders with the effect that many people change their moral character approved of by society would not be right if that society is itself wicked, as was Nazi Germany. So we still need an accurate conception of what the decent society would be. And Honderich argues that the offender who is reformed by punishment is reformed in the wrong way: the first step towards becoming a good person is not awareness that others condemn what she has done, but a sympathetic awareness of how breaking the law harms others.

Honderich then effectively debunks the claim that all those who break the law do so as a consequence of mental illness and so should be treated rather than punished. Against the Freudian claim that offenders suffer from faculty relationships between id, ego and superego, he points out that there no evidence for this claim. Moreover the concepts it invokes have no precision. Eysenck's claim that children who are highly emotional and have a specific heredity are deterministically conditioned by the environment to become offenders ignores the fact that at least certain human decisions are different from a blink response. Against the sociological view that offenders offend because they have been formed by a certain social environment, it is difficult to see how this can be the complete explanation of criminality. In any case it would take enormous resources to treat all offenders -- or would-be offenders -- as if they were ill. Moreover, if the alternative to punishment is treatment, we would be justified in coercing offenders to undergo treatment, perhaps at great distress. We would have to give up argument and rational discussion with an offender to persuade her that what she did was wrong. We would also need the right view of what a well offender would be -- which again boils down to defending a view of the decent society.

Non-utilitarians must or do hold that an offender may be punished justly only if she committed her offence voluntarily. How can they square this with causal determinism? Honderich accepts determinism. He holds that quantum physics does not threaten determinism, very roughly the claim that all events have causes that make their effects inevitable. Yet he argues that we may keep the attitude that actions are voluntary. He maintains that we have two notions of freedom. One is freedom as origination: your decision is free (so you are responsible for it) just in case it originates in you as an uncaused cause, namely as an act of will. The other is freedom as voluntariness: your decision is free just in case it accords with your desires. Incompatibilism holds that freedom is voluntariness plus origination, so since determinism rules out origination, determinism rules out human freedom. Compatibilism holds that freedom is voluntariness, so determinism is consistent with freedom, because your decision, say to steal, may be inevitable given a preceding cause, such as a brain-event, yet still be in accord with your desires. Honderich holds that both incompatibilism and compatibilism are mistaken. Both assume that we have one fixed notion of freedom. In fact we have two. When we accept determinism and think of freedom as origination, our attitude is dismay, because our judgment that you were wrong to steal is threatened by the fact that you could not have done other than steal, so you were not responsible for stealing and thus not wrong. When we accept determinism and think of freedom as voluntariness, our attitude is intransigence: we stubbornly refuse to compromise on our judgment that you were wrong to steal. Therefore we can keep the attitude that actions are voluntary.

I found this segment of the book the most technical. Perhaps I missed something, but I find this position obscure. Surely the important question is not how we conceive of freedom, but which conception is correct. Since freedom as origination is ruled out by determinism, the alternative seems to be the claim that you freely chose to steal only if you could have done otherwise had you wanted to -- despite the fact that what you in fact wanted was causally determined. If this isn't compatibilism, what is?

Honderich then considers mixed theories, which roughly reduce to the claim that punishment is justified because it is or may be deserved by the offender and also prevents future offences. He shows, against Hart, that the fact that we can ask what justifies the practice of justification separately from asking what justifies particular punishments of particular offenders, does not mean that we must answer the first just in terms of prevention of crime and the second just in terms of desert. That won't work, given his objections above. Against Nozick's proposal that punishing the offender is justified if it reconnects him with the correct values, he points out that the

'aim is to defend our societies as they are, or to defend societies to which we might extrapolate from our societies. But we do not know, in any enlightening way, what is supposed to make these societies worth defending'.

So the communication theory is incomplete.

Honderich ends his book with an impassioned argument for his own justification of punishment. For me, this was when the book came alive, especially in comparison with the rather dry discussion of determinism. His position is not politically liberal, or communitarian, or conservative (to which he objects on the grounds that it assumes, with no moral justification, that we should all be self-interested). Rather, it is based on the Principle of Humanity: we must take what are best judged rational steps towards keeping people from living bad lives, where a bad life is roughly defined in terms of benefits such as longevity, bodily well-being, freedom and power, respect and self-respect, relationships with others and culture, including knowledge in place of ignorance.

Punishment is justified just in case in accords with this principle. Honderich shows -- or rather, forcefully reminds us -- that our own societies are indecent. The best-off hundredth of the population of the UK has about 25% of total wealth. In American the best-off tenth has had over 70%. The political power of the top tenths is thousands of times greater than that in the bottom tenths, partly because the richer have advantages they can buy, including lawyers. This translates into children who will remain sick or ignorant, gross unemployment, race discrimination in jobs and bad deaths for the old. It also explains socio-economic disparities in terms of crime; those with greater freedom and power have less risky ways of satisfying their desires than resorting to rape or assaulting someone who persistently harasses them. Our societies, which are indecent, are largely formed by our punitive systems. So our punitive systems are wrong. They are not rational means of keeping people out of bad lives. Instead they strengthen a society that mainly only improves already good lives, by preserving an unfair distribution of benefits. For example, punishment for offences against private property serves the end of those with power that seek to profit themselves.

Also important is what our punitive systems do not punish, such as those that profitize what was public property, corporations like Bhopal that offend against public health, or a prime minister who lies to his nation about the necessity of war. Honderich concludes that our penal systems serve a society whose good lives rest on many more bad ones.

He ends by claiming that we must reform the nature of our societies in any rational way we can. We need more disrespect for the law and disdain for merely hierarchic democracy. We can turn to mass civil disobedience, organize boycotts, withdraw investments and refuse to pay taxes.

Whether you agree with Honderich's conclusions, there is no doubt that this book would be invaluable for anyone who wants to start thinking seriously about what justifies punishment, not only because it surveys a high proportion of the classical literature but because it connects theories in broad yet subtle ways. It adroitly anticipates the reader's objections. It combines impressive breath with meticulous dissection of ideas. Its conclusion is refreshingly iconoclastic. It contains wit and a healthy contempt for politicians.

The definition of punishment from which Honderich starts is admirably circumspect and qualified. I just wished that the argumentation wasn't so often of the same character. Meaner and leaner would have helped me more in identifying inferences to sub-conclusions. Yet patience paid dividends: I got a lot more out of it on a second reading.

Honderich says in the last chapter that there is another book that should be written about how actual systems of punishments in various countries fall short of the Principle of Humanity. I hope he writes it.

 

2006 John Williams

 

John Williams, Professor in Philosophy, Singapore Management University.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716