Proportionalism and Penal Practice

Part of the Library Of Ethics And Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 16)

The philosophical discussion of an ethical theory usually consists in maneuvers such as conceptual clarifications, examinations of deductive implications, considerations on whether the theory is arbitrary or well-sustained and, in broader terms, on whether the theory provides a coherent solution to the problem it aims at solving. The moral investigation of punishment has not - nor in the way it has been carried out in the previous chapters - constituted an exception to this traditional picture of philosophical work. However, one thing is whether a theory is theoretically or formally correct, another is whether it is materially correct in the sense that it is applicable to the actual world. If a theory suffers from theoretical defects - such as, e.g. conceptual ambiguity or obscurity - then this may well lead to problems of application. However, even if the theory is formally correct, this does not imply that it is practically applicable. In his much celebrated article “Marxism and Retributivism”, Murphy has directed attention to this fact. As he shows, this insight constituted the core in Marx’s criticism of the classical retributivists. In Marx’s view, Kant and especially Hegel failed when it came to “the union of theory and practice”


Capital Punishment Social Deprivation Penal System Punishment System Proportionality Principle 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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