This book aims to answer the question: 'why, and by what right do some people punish others?' The author argues that the justification of punishment must be embedded in a substantive political and moral theory. Matravers questions why it is that recent theories of distributive justice have had so little to say about the punishment and retributive justice. His answer is that contemporary theories of justice cannot explain the relationship of justice and morality morebroadly conceived. As this is also the relationship that a theory of punishment needs to explain, it is in examining the problem of punishment that the limitations of contemporary theories of justice are most starkly exposed. Moreover, the limitations are such as to undermine these accounts ofjustice. The claim is that it is through the discussion of punishment that the inadequacies of contemporary theories of justice is demonstrated and it is therefore through the discussion of punishment that those inadequacies can be rectified. Matravers argues for a genuinely constructivist account of morality-constructivist in that it rejects any idea of objective, mind-independent moral values, and seeks instead to construct morality from non-moral human concerns and human wills, and genuinely constructivist in that, in contrast to the faux constructivisim of Rawls and cognate approaches, it does not take as a premise the equal moral worth of persons. He argues that a genuine constructivism will show the need for and justificationof punishment as intrinsic to morality itself.
- Publication Date:
- 03 / 08 / 2000