Global Journal of Humanities

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A Critical Assessment Of The Retributive Theory Of Punishment

AF Uduigwomen


On the question of punishment two questions are often asked namely, what is the purpose of punishment? And what is the justification for punishment? In answer to these questions, retributive theory states that when crime is committed, the balance of the moral order is upset, but when appropriate punishment is given, the balance of the moral order is put right again and justice is restored. The paper argues that the retributive theory is similar to the golden rule, which states that doing to a person what he has intentionally done to others cannot be unjust. Thus it subscribes to the notion of ‘just desert', (the view that punishment must be deserved) which is an important element of the retributive theory. It however avers that since a good end does not justify an evil means, under no circumstances should an innocent person be punished even if doing so will produce good results.

Global Journal of Humanities Vol.3(1&2) 2004: 9-13
AJOL African Journals Online