Klimchuk, Dennis
January 2001
Law & Philosophy;Jan2001, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p81
Academic Journal
The article discusses the concepts of retribution, restitution, and revenge. Critics of retributivism often complain that retributivists substitute metaphor for argument just when the questions become difficult. Principal among these are metaphors of commerce. Retributive ideas are often cashed out in terms of debts, payments, and the like. But this, the critics continue, only multiplies obscurities; one would do best to leave the whole business behind. Many will find the root idea discussed in this article, that punishment is the institutional expression of revenge (and as such justified), objectionable on its face. The desire for revenge, one might argue, is something to be overcome rather than satiated, however much may be gained by way of fairness from its institutionalization. The article shows that the idea that punishment constitutes the repayment of a debt of some kind to someone relies upon--rather than represents. It focuses on the converse relationship, that is, with the dependence of the idea of punishment as the repayment of some kind of debt on the core idea and the proportionality principle.


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