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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

Criminal justice

2010

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Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment: On The Limits Of Reason And The Virtues Of Randomization (A Polemic And Manifesto For The Twenty-First Century), Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2010

Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment: On The Limits Of Reason And The Virtues Of Randomization (A Polemic And Manifesto For The Twenty-First Century), Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Since the modern era, the discourse of punishment has cycled through three sets of questions. The first, born of the Enlightenment itself, asked: On what ground does the sovereign have the right to punish? Nietzsche most forcefully, but others as well, argued that the question itself begged its own answer. With the birth of the social sciences, this skepticism gave rise to a second set of questions: What then is the true function of punishment? What is it that we do when we punish? A series of further critiques – of meta-narratives, of functionalism, of scientific objectivity – softened this second line ...