The Problem of Punishment / Edition 1

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In this book, David Boonin examines the problem of punishment, particularly the problem of explaining why it is morally permissible for the state to treat those who break the law differently from 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 both to anyone looking for a critical introduction to the subject and to anyone who is already familiar with it.

About the Author:
David Boonin is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of A Defense of Abortion and Thomas Hobbes and the Science of Moral Virtue, as well as numerous articles on a variety of topics in ethics and applied ethics

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

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.

—Leslie Armour
From the Publisher
"... an excellent, thorough account of the concept of punishment. He critically engages in great depth a wide range of theories that purport to explain why the practice of punishment is morally permissible ... In addition, Boonin provocatively calls into question the ultimate need for punishment by insightfully defending an alternative practice of pure restitution from numerous objections. Whether or not one agrees with his defense of abolitionism, Boonin convincingly shows that a plausible solution to the problem of punishment will look very different from any theory that has come before in the literature." - Jim Staihar, University of Chicago Law School
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521709613
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310
  • Sales rank: 1,079,765
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

David Boonin is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of A Defense of Abortion and Thomas Hobbes and the Science of Moral Virtue, as well as numerous articles on a variety of topics in ethics and applied ethics.
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Table of Contents

1 The Problem of Punishment 1

2 The Consequentialist Solution 37

3 The Retributivist Solution 85

4 Other Solutions 155

5 The Appeal to Necessity 213

Bibliography 277

Index 293

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