As a left-wing activist in the 1970s and 80s, I found that working-class people who voiced concerns about law and order were generally dismissed as right wing. Law and order did not fit in well with class politics. Many recognised that the imposition of punishment was not primarily intended to deter criminals and it fell unfairly on those sections of society ‘whose socially disadvantaged position makes them volatile, disaffected and thus threatening’ (1). As such, serious criticism of judicial punishment has been left to academic studies such as The Philosophy of Punishment by Anthony Ellis, a perfect introduction to a knotted subject.
Can two wrongs make a right?
A new book interrogates the difficulty thinkers have had in justifying the punishment of criminals.
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Footnotes and references
(1) A Reader on Punishment, AR Duff, Oxford University Press 1994
(2) The Moral Education Theory of Punishment, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer, 1984), pp. 208-238