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Oxford University Press, USA

Rights Forfeiture and Punishment

Rights Forfeiture and Punishment

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Given that persons typically have a right not to be subjected to the hard treatment of punishment, it would seem natural to conclude that the permissibility of punishment is centrally a question of rights. Despite this, the vast majority of theorists working on punishment focus instead on
important aims, such as achieving retributive justice, deterring crime, restoring victims, or expressing society's core values. Wellman contends that these aims may well explain why we should want a properly constructed system of punishment, but none shows why it would be permissible to institute
one. Only a rights-based analysis will suffice, because the type of justification we seek for punishment must demonstrate that punishment is permissible, and it would be permissible only if it violated no one's rights. On Wellman's view, punishment is permissible just in case the wrongdoer has
forfeited her right against punishment by culpably violating (or at least attempting to violate) the rights of others.

After defending rights forfeiture theory against the standard objections, Wellman explains this theory's implications for a number of core issues in criminal law, including the authority of the state, international criminal law, the proper scope of the criminal law and the tort/crime distinction,
procedural rights, and the justification of mala prohibita.


Author: Christopher Heath Wellman
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Published: 08/01/2017
Pages: 240
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 0.90lbs
Size: 8.30h x 5.60w x 0.90d
ISBN: 9780190274764

About the Author

Christopher Heath Wellman teaches philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. He works in ethics, specializing in political and legal philosophy. Wellman's previous books with Oxford University Press include Liberal Rights and Responsibilities, (with Phillip Cole) Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude? and (with Andrew Altman) A Liberal Theory of International Justice.

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