Arguing Against the Expressive Function of Punishment: Is the Standard Account that Insufficient?

  • Ambrose Y. K. LeeEmail author


This paper critically appraises the arguments that have been offered for what can be called ‘the expressive function of punishment’. According to this view, what distinguishes punishment from other kinds of non-punitive hard treatment is that punishment conveys a censorial/reprobative message about what the punished has done, and that this expressive function should therefore be accepted as part of the nature and definition of punishment. Against this view, this papers argues that the standard account of punishment, according to which punishment is a kind of hard treatment that is imposed on an alleged offender in response to her alleged wrongdoing, can already properly account for punishment and distinguish it from other kinds of hard treatment when it is properly clarified and understood. Thus there is no need to accept the expressive function of punishment in addition to the standard account when it comes to the nature and definition of punishment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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