Revenge as the Dark Double of Retributive Punishment

Kaufman, Whitley
June 2016
Philosophia;Jun2016, Vol. 44 Issue 2, p317
Academic Journal
It is an assumption widely shared by both retributivists and anti-retributivists that revenge is a morally impermissible basis for inflicting harm. Retributivists have thus exercised great ingenuity in demonstrating that retribution is fundamentally different from revenge. But this is, I argue, to misconstrue the problem. The problem is rather to recognize the essential continuity between revenge and retribution, and to address the question whether there is a moral basis for the very idea of inflicting harm in response to moral wrongdoing. I argue that the only plausible such moral justification is the defense of honor, and that the debate needs to be focused on the legitimacy of honor as a moral basis for punishment.


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