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Hard Determinism and Punishment: A Practical Reductio


How can hard determinism deal with the need to punish, when coupled with the obligation to be just? I argue that even though hard determinists might find it morally permissible to incarcerate wrongdoers apart from lawful society, they are committed to the punishment’s taking a very different form from common practice in contemporary Western societies. Hard determinists are in fact committed to what I will call funishment, instead of punishment. But, by its nature funishment is a practical reductio of hard determinism: it makes implementing hard determinism impossible to contemplate. Indeed, the social practices that hard determinism requires turn out to be morally bad even according to hard determinism itself. I conclude by briefly reflecting upon the implications.

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Correspondence to Saul Smilansky.

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Smilansky, S. Hard Determinism and Punishment: A Practical Reductio . Law and Philos 30, 353 (2011).

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  • Moral Responsibility
  • Free Action
  • Lawful Society
  • Strict Liability
  • Moral Position