This class will examine the philosophical and moral justifications for punishment in both American and international criminal justice systems, with a specific focus on the impact that the philosophy of punishment has on the individual and more broadly, on society as a whole. We will examine legal theory and concepts while fostering philosophical contemplation and discussion.
There are four main theories of punishment: deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation and incapacitation. Depending on era and country, different views take a different approach and order of importance; this class will examine the four main theories in other countries, as well as our own. We will examine which philosophy of punishment is most effective and why.
As we attempt to move toward a more socially conscious view of justice, we must ask a series of “why” and “how” questions: why do we punish those who have violated the law, and how do we decide the proportionality of the punishment in question? What philosophy do other countries use/ what philosophy has shaped our modern view of crime and punishment? Are we becoming more or less moral? Whose standards of morals? Are we becoming a more or less compassionate society? And how do those standards compare to the moral/philosophical views of comparative criminal justice systems in other countries?