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Chapter 11 - Free Will Skepticism and Criminal Punishment: A Preliminary Ethical Analysis

from Part III - Free Will Skepticism and the Criminal Justice System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 August 2019

Elizabeth Shaw
University of Aberdeen
Derk Pereboom
Cornell University, New York
Gregg D. Caruso
Corning Community College, State University of New York
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If we are unlikely to possess the kind of free will that legitimates desert-based punishment, the rationally defensible route is to adopt a cautionary perspective that draws on non-desert-based criminal justice procedures that are fair and just to all parties. This chapter analyzes the options: (1) we can acknowledge that we have no justification for desert-based moral responsibility but disregard this at both trial and sentencing phases; (2) we can acknowledge this and disregard it at trial but not sentencing phase; (3) we can acknowledge this and take it into account during both the trial and sentencing phase. The author therefore presents some potential models to effectively address criminal behavior and critically assesses the most striking difficulties each of these models faces. The chapter concludes that innovative criminal justice systems must continue to identify causal responsibility, promote taking responsibility for future behavior, and thoroughly respond to victims’ rights and needs. The attribution of moral guilt and the implementation of desert-based punishment face numerous objections. Debate is needed on the desirability of a criminal justice model focusing on causal responsibility and taking responsibility; a model that aims at victim recovery, restitution, and restoration by implementing forward-looking justice mechanisms.

Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society
Challenging Retributive Justice
, pp. 207 - 236
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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