The Ends of Harm: The Moral Foundations of Criminal Law

The Ends of Harm: The Moral Foundations of Criminal Law

by Victor Tadros
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Every modern democratic state imprisons thousands of offenders every year, depriving them of their liberty, causing them a great deal of psychological and sometimes physical harm. Relationships are destroyed, jobs are lost, the risk of the offender being harmed by other offenders is increased and all at great expense to the state.

How can this brutal and costly

Overview

Every modern democratic state imprisons thousands of offenders every year, depriving them of their liberty, causing them a great deal of psychological and sometimes physical harm. Relationships are destroyed, jobs are lost, the risk of the offender being harmed by other offenders is increased and all at great expense to the state.

How can this brutal and costly enterprise be justified? Traditionally, philosophers answering this question have argued either that the punishment of wrongdoers is a good in itself (retributivism), or that it is a regrettable means to a valuable end, such as the deterrence of future wrongdoing, and thus justifiable on consequentialist grounds. This book offers a critical examination of those theories and advances a new argument for punishment's justification, calling it the 'duty view'. On this view, the permission to punish offenders is grounded in the duties that they incur in virtue of their wrongdoing. The most important duties that ground the justification of punishment are the duty to recognize that the offender has done wrong and the duty to protect others against wrongdoing. In the light of these duties the state has a permission to punish offenders to ensure that they recognize that what they have done is wrong, but also to protect others from crime.

In contrast to other justifications of punishment grounded in deterrence, the duty view is developed in the light of a non-consequentialist moral theory: a theory which endorses constraints on the pursuit of the good. It is shown that it is normally wrong to harm a person as a means to pursue a greater good. However, there are exceptions to this principle in cases where the person harmed has an enforceable duty to pursue the good. The implications of this idea are explored both in the context of self-defense, and then in the context of punishment. Through the systematic exploration of the relationship between self-defense and punishment, the book makes significant progress in defending a plausible set of non-consequentialist moral principles that justify the punishment of wrongdoers, and marks a significant contribution to the philosophical literature on punishment.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A stimulating, original and well-written account that prompts a reconsideration of the existing foundation of punishment."
—Legal Studies, Vol 32 No 3

"Tadros has put his agile, analytical mind to work to solve a problem that should be of central concern to all of us. And in that spirit, his work should be read and celebrated."
—Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Jotwell

"If Tadros is right, philosophers of punishment must be moral and political philosophers too, and their philosophical horizons must expand accordingly. That it doubles as an attempt to meet this challenge makes The End of Harm an invigorating read."
—James Edwards, Law Quarterly Review

"Victor Tadros has produced a powerful and highly original moral justification for a practice of state punishment that would be more purposeful and humane than any presently existing system of criminal punishment. He argues with great cogency that the permissibility of punishment and the permissibility of self-defense have their common source in the enforcement of duties that wrongdoers owe to their victims. In the course of meticulously defending these comprehensive accounts of the right to punish and the right of self-defense, he illuminates a range of central issues in normative ethics, political philosophy, and legal theory. The Ends of Harm presents a profound and brilliant challenge both to our institutions of punishment and to our traditional ways of justifying them."
—Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University

"Victor Tadros is one of the brightest, most inventive theorists working on the morality of punishment, and his admirable insight and creativity are on full display in this very impressive book."
—Christopher Heath Wellman, Washington University

"Tadros's new book makes striking and original contributions not only to penal theory, but to moral philosophy more broadly. Starting from a vivid reminder of just how morally problematic the practice of state punishment is, he develops an instrumentalist account of punishment as general deterrence, but does so on the basis of a firmly non-instrumentalist, Kantian moral theory to which the idea of respect for persons (along with the 'means principle' that forbids treating people as means) is central. The key new idea here is that those who commit crimes acquire duties to their victims, including the duty to protect them against future harm; this, Tadros argues, can then justify the imposition of deterrent punishments as a way of enforcing those protective duties."
—Professor R. A. Duff, University of Stirling and University of Minnesota

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199681914
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/16/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
764,878
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Victor Tadros, Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Theory, University of Warwick

Victor Tadros is Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Theory at the University of Warwick. Prior to his appointment at Warwick he held positions at the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh. He has written on criminal responsibility, criminal offences, criminal trials, the presumption of innocence, just war theory, and various aspects of moral and political philosophy. He is currently engaged in a major project on criminalization with Antony Duff, Lindsay Farmer, Sandra Marshall, and Massimo Renzo, funded by the AHRC for which he is currently writing a book entitled Wrongs and Crimes.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >