Guilt, Anger, and Retribution

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  • Department of Philosophy
This article focuses primarily on the emotion of guilt as providing a justification for retributive legal punishment. In particular I shall challenge the claim according to which guilt can function as part of our epistemic justification in favour of positive retributivism, i.e., the view that wrongdoing is both necessary and sufficient to justify punishment. I will show that the argument to this conclusion rests on two premises: (a) to feel guilty typically involves the judgement that one deserves punishment; and (b) those who feel guilty after wrongdoing are more virtuous (or less vicious) than those who do not. I shall argue that (a) is false on empirical grounds; and that there are no particularly good reasons to believe (b). Finally, I will consider and reject the claim that anger, as opposed to guilt, can afford the type of epistemic justification needed by positive retributivism.
Udgivelsesdato: 2010
Original languageEnglish
JournalLegal Theory
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Guilt, Anger, Retribution, Positive Retributivism, M.S. Moore

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ID: 20059553