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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 14, Issue 1, Spring 2000

Stephen Kershnar
Pages 97-117

A Defense of Retributivism

The moral theory justifying punishment will shape the debate over numerous controversial issues such as the moral permissibility of the death penalty, probation, parole, and plea bargaining, as well as issues about conditions in prison and access to educational opportunities in prison. In this essay I argue that the primary goal of the criminal justice system is to inflict suffering on, and only on, those who deserve it. If I am correct, the answer to issues involving the criminal justice system should be answered in large part by considering whether the practice in question furthers the infliction of suffering on, and only on, those who deserve it.

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