Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 879–897

Punishing ‘Dirty Hands’—Three Justifications

Article

Abstract

Should those who get dirty hands be punished? There is strong disagreement among even those who support the existence of such scenarios. The problem arises because the paradoxical nature of dirty hands - doing wrong to do right - renders the standard normative justifications for punishment unfit for purpose. The Consequentialist, Retributivist and Communicative approaches cannot accommodate the idea that an action can be right, all things considered, but nevertheless also a categorical wrong. This paper argues that punishment is indeed appropriate for those who dirty their hands and that there are three normative justifications that can be used to support this claim. These are the justifications from ‘Catharsis’, ‘Recognition of Evil Suffered’ and ‘Causal Responsibility’. Together they provide the sui generis justifications for punishing dirty hands.

Keywords

Dirty Hands Punishment Justification Michael Walzer 

References

  1. Adler J (1991) The urging of conscience: a theory of punishment. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  2. Arendt H (1958) The human condition. Chicago University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  3. Arendt H (1990) On revolution. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bedau, Hugo Adam and Kelly, Erin (2010) "Punishment", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2010/entries/punishment
  5. Bennett C (2008) The apology ritual: a philosophical theory of punishment. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Camus A (1958) The just assassins. In: Gilbert S (ed) Caligula and three other plays. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen S (1991) Alternatives to punishment- the abolitionist case. Isr Law Rev 25(3):729–739Google Scholar
  8. Davis M (2009) Punishment theory’s golden half century: a survey of developments from (about) 1957 to 2007. J Ethics 13:73–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de Wijze S (1994) Dirty hands—doing wrong to do right. S Afr J Philos 13(1):27–33Google Scholar
  10. de Wijze S (2005) Tragic-remorse—the anguish of dirty hands. Ethical Theory Moral Prac 7(5):453–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. de Wijze S (2009) ‘Targeted killing: a ‘dirty hands’ analysis’. Contemp Polit 15(3):305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Digeser P (1998) Forgiveness and politics: dirty hands and imperfect procedures. Polit Theor 26(5):700–724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duff RA (1991) Punishment, Expression and Penance. In: Jung H, Müller-Dietz H, Neumann U (eds) Nomos) Recht und Moral: Beiträge zu einer Standortbestimmung 235Google Scholar
  14. Duff RA (1998) Desert and penance. In: Ashworth A, Von Hirsch A (eds) Principled sentencing. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Duff RA (2001) Punishment, communication and community. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Feinberg J (1970) Doing and deserving. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  17. Gaita R (1991) Good and evil: an absolute conception. Macmillan, BasingstokeGoogle Scholar
  18. Galston W (1991) Toughness as a political virtue. Soc Theor Pract 17(2):175–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gardner J (2005) Wrongs and faults. Rev Metaphy 59(1):95–132Google Scholar
  20. Garrett SA (1996) Conscience and power: an examination of dirty hands and political leadership. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Garvey SP (1999) Punishment as Atonement. Cornell Law Faculty Publications, Paper 264. http://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/facpub/264
  22. Goodwin T (2009) The problem of dirty hands: examining and defending a special case of inescapable moral wrongdoing. (PhD Thesis University of Manchester)Google Scholar
  23. Gowans CW (1994) Innocence lost: an examination of inescapable moral wrongdoing. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Hampshire S (1978) Morality and pessimism. In: Hampshire S (ed) Public and private morality. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hampshire S (1983) Morality and conflict. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Hart HLA (1968) Punishment and responsibility. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  27. Hershenov DB (1999) Restitution and Revenge. J Phil 96(2):79–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hollis M (1982) Dirty hands. Br J Polit Sci 12(4):385–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kemp J (1968) The philosophy of Kant. OUP, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Kramer M (2011) The ethics of capital punishment. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Lacey N (1988) State punishment: political principles and community values. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Levy N (2007) Punishing the dirty. In: Primoratz I (ed) Politics and morality. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 38–53Google Scholar
  33. Machiavelli N (1997) The prince. Wordsworth Editions Ltd, WareGoogle Scholar
  34. Matravers M (2000) Justice and punishment: the rationale of coercion. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McDermott D (2001) The permissibility of punishment. Law Philos 20:403–432Google Scholar
  36. Meisels T (2008) Torture and the problem of dirty hands. Can J Law Jur 21(1):149–173Google Scholar
  37. Miller S (2007) Noble cause corruption in politics. In: Primoratz I (ed) Politics and morality. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Nagel T (1972) War and massacre. Philos Publ Aff 1(2):123–144Google Scholar
  39. Nielsen K (1996) There is no dilemma of dirty hands. In: Rynard P, Shugarman DP (eds) Cruelty & deception: the controversy over dirty hands in politics. Broadview, Letchworth, pp 139–155Google Scholar
  40. Rawls J (1971) A theory of justice. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Stocker M (1992) Plural and conflicting values. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stocker M (2000) Dirty hands and ordinary life. In: Rynard P, Shugarman DP (eds) Cruelty and deception: the controversy over dirty hands in politics. Broadview, LetchworthGoogle Scholar
  43. Tasioulas J (2006) Punishment and Repentance. Philosophy 81Google Scholar
  44. Thompson D (1987) Political ethics and public office. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  45. Von Hirsch A (1998) Proportionate sentences: a desert perspective. In: Andrew A, Andrew Von H (eds) Principled sentencing. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  46. Walzer M (1973) Political action: the problem of dirty hands. Philos Publ Aff 2(2):160–180Google Scholar
  47. Weber M (1948) Politics as a vocation. In: HH G, and Wright Mills C (eds) From Max Weber: essays in sociology. London, Kegan Paul LtdGoogle Scholar
  48. Williams B (1981a) Utilitarianism and moral self indulgence. In Moral luck—philosophical papers 1973–1980. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  49. Williams B (1981b) Moral luck. In: Moral luck—philosophical papers 1973–1980. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. Williams B (1994) Shame and necessity. University of California Press Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), PoliticsUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations