Using Wrongdoers Rightly: Tadros on the Justification of General Deterrence
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- Farrell, D.M. Criminal Law, Philosophy (2015) 9: 1. doi:10.1007/s11572-012-9198-1
Some philosophers believe that punishing convicted criminals in order to deter other, potential criminals would be morally questionable even if we had good evidence that doing so would achieve its goal, at least to a substantial degree. And they believe this because they believe that doing so would be an instance of “using” convicted criminals in a morally objectionable way. Tadros aims to show that we would indeed be “using” convicted criminals in such cases but that, while “using” others is ordinarily morally wrong, there are cases in which it is in fact morally permissible (or even morally required). Moreover, he claims that punishing convicted criminals in order to deter other, potential criminals is an instance of “using” others that is sometimes clearly morally justifiable. My aim is to show how extraordinarily interesting some of Tadros’ arguments are but also why, in my view, they fail to establish the view he claims they support. I also suggest some ways in which Tadros might revise his arguments to support his central claim(s) more effectively.