What is punishment? What justifies legal punishment? Who should we punish? What limits (if any) should there be on the scope of the criminally punishable offences? Should we ever exempt or excuse persons from criminal responsibility? What is the relationship between criminal responsibility and moral responsibility? This course is intended for students who are interested in thinking carefully, critically and philosophically about criminal punishment. We will explore some of the notions implied by the above questions, and consider in detail utilitarian and retributivist arguments for the imposition of criminal sanctions on wrongdoers. Previous experience in philosophy (other than PHIL 120) strongly recommended, especially PHIL 240 and/or PHIL 114.
TEXTS: The Classical Utilitarians: Bentham and Mill, John Troyer, ed.; Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law, H.L.A. Hart.