- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
In this book, David Boonin examines the problem of punishment, and particularly the problem of explaining why it is morally permissible for the state to treat those who break the law in ways that would be wrong to treat those who do not. Boonin argues that there is no satisfactory solution to this problem and that the practice of legal punishment should therefore be abolished. Providing a detailed account of the nature of punishment and the problems that it generates, he offers a comprehensive and critical survey of the various solutions that have been offered to the problem and concludes by considering victim restitution as an alternative to punishment. Written in a clear and accessible style, The Problem of Punishment will be of interest to anyone looking for a critical introduction to the subject as well as to those already familiar with it.
Boonin (philosophy, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) argues against the theories that punishment may have good consequences and that victims are entitled to a measure of retribution. Readers will want to examine his arguments in detail, but, in short, he contends that punishment does intentional harm to people and is therefore wrong. Instead, he recommends restitution: those who break the law should be made to restore the property and happiness of those who have suffered. Obviously, murderers cannot restore life, and victims of rape cannot have the harm undone or their sense of security fully restored, but, he argues, something can be done to make the world a better place. However one assesses the arguments, though, it seems undeniable that some people need to be segregated because of their behavior. Although nothing in Boonin's argument appears to refute segregation as long as people are not harmed, it would be hard to distinguish it from punishment. The bibliography offers a rich choice of works on rival theories, but nonprofessional readers will do best to have in hand the long-established standard review of all the traditional arguments, A.C. Ewing's Morality of Punishment (1929). This book is intended for academic philosophers, but it should attract a wider audience.-Leslie Armour, Dominican Univ. Coll., Ottawa, Ont.
1. The problem of punishment; 2. The consequentialist solution; 3. The retributivist solution; 4. Other solutions; 5. The appeal to necessity.