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Political Theory

2011

University of Richmond

Moral justification

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Social Contracts, Fair Play, And The Justification Of Punishment, Richard Dagger Jan 2011

Social Contracts, Fair Play, And The Justification Of Punishment, Richard Dagger

Political Science Faculty Publications

In recent years, the counterintuitive claim that criminals consent to their own punishment has been revived by philosophers who attempt to ground the justification of punishment in some version of the social contract. In this paper, I examine three such attempts—“contractarian” essays by Christopher Morris and Claire Finkelstein and an essay by Corey Brettschneider from the rival “contractualist” camp—and I find all three unconvincing. Each attempt is plausible, I argue, but its plausibility derives not from the appeal to a social contract but from considerations of fair play. Rather than look to the social contract for a justification ...