Original Paper

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 247-254

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Duff on the Legitimacy of Punishment of Socially Deprived Offenders

  • Peter ChauAffiliated withUniversity of Hong KongUniversity of Oxford Email author 


Duff offered an argument for the conclusion that just or legitimate punishment of socially deprived offenders in our unjust society is impossible. One of the claims in his argument is that our courts have the standing to blame an offender only if our polity has the right to do so since our courts are acting as the representatives of, or to use the exact phrases by Duff, “in the name of”, or “on behalf of”, the whole polity. In this paper I will challenge that claim. I will argue that the courts can be seen as acting, not on behalf of the whole polity, but only on behalf of a subset of its citizens, namely, the just citizens (i.e. the citizens who cannot be seen to have wronged the deprived offenders).


Punishment Standing Blame Social justice