Volume 13, Issue 2, 2011
God and Abstract Objects
The Sacrament of Punishment
A Response to David Boonin’s Abolitionism
David Boonin’s 2008 book, The Problem of Punishment, argues that punishment by the state is immoral and should be abolished. This article contends that Boonin’s position is dependent upon questionable presuppositions about the authority of the state. The article uses Boonin’s work to show that any defense of state punishment must move beyond “theories of punishment” to address questions of political philosophy. It argues that the view of state authority envisioned by St. Paul undercuts Boonin’s argument. At the same time, this Pauline view of the state’s role may undercut specific aspects of the contemporary exercise of criminal justice in America.