Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 August 2019
In this chapter I outline what I take to be a solution to a problem about free will denial and the justification of punishment pointed out by Saul Smilansky. Smilansky argues that free will deniers must acknowledge that some institution of punishment is necessary to maintain law and order, but since criminals do not deserve to be punished, it is unjust to punish them, and we therefore have a duty to compensate them. Since this is a great injustice, we must compensate them very heavily, in fact so heavily that the institution of punishment will cease to deter and will instead become an incentive to commit crime. Previous responses to Smilansky’s “practical reductio” argument by Neil Levy, Derk Pereboom, and Gregg Caruso have emphasized consequentialist moral reasons. I advocate a deontological social contract approach to punishment that draws on Kantian and Rawlsian notions of treating criminals as ends by respecting their rational consent to punishment.
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