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Political Philosophy and Punishment

  • Chad FlandersEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Modern analytical political philosophy—characterized most notably by the work of John Rawls—has had very little to say about how punishment in particular and criminal law more generally might be justified. This is a puzzling omission, as punishment can be seen as the most serious use of coercive state power and therefore the one in greatest need of philosophical justification. With the idea of filling this gap, this chapter analyzes several major political theories of recent decades and examines how criminal justice might fit into their thought. After discussing the various political theories of libertarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism, and republicanism, I offer a limited defense of one such theory, Rawls’s “political liberalism,” as offering a suitable way to approach issues of criminal justice and punishment in modern society. More broadly, my chapter invites political philosophers to speak more often and more specifically about how criminal justice fits within their theories.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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