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Criminal Law

Punishment

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

2018

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What Unconditional Credence In Individual Desert Claims Does Retributivism Require?, Emad H. Atiq Apr 2018

What Unconditional Credence In Individual Desert Claims Does Retributivism Require?, Emad H. Atiq

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Punishing a person based on low unconditional credence in their deservingness to be punished is consistent with retributivist deontological principles. Negative retributivism absolutely prohibits the intentional or knowing infliction of undeserved harm on individuals identified as undeserving, not the intentional or knowing infliction of risks of undeserved harm on individuals. Meanwhile, the knowing infliction of undeserved harm on some unidentified individuals generates not overriding reasons against punishment, but pro tanto reasons against punishment that are to be weighed against other non-overriding reasons for punishment like crime prevention. The upshot is that uncertainty regarding any identified person’s deservingness to be punished …