Original Paper

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 291-307

First online:

Revisiting Kantian Retributivism to Construct a Justification of Punishment

  • Jane JohnsonAffiliated withUnit for the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney Email author 

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The standard view of Kant’s retributivism, as well as its more recent reworking in the ‘limited’ or ‘partial’ retributivist reading are, it is argued here, inadequate accounts of Kant on punishment. In the case of the former, the view is too limited and superficial, and in the latter it is simply inaccurate as an interpretation of Kant. Instead, this paper argues that a more sophisticated and accurate rendering of Kant on punishment can be obtained by looking to his construction of the concept of justice. In so doing, not only is a superior account of Kant furnished, but also one up to the task of resolving the vexed issue of justifying legal punishment.


Community Construction of justice Justification of punishment Kant ‘Limited’ or ‘partial’ retributivism Real negation Retributivism