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Saint Louis University School of Law

Retributive justice

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Beyond Experience: Getting Retributive Justice Right, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders, David C. Gray Jan 2011

Beyond Experience: Getting Retributive Justice Right, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders, David C. Gray

All Faculty Scholarship

How central should hedonic adaptation be to the establishment of sentencing policy?

In earlier work, Professors Bronsteen, Buccafusco, and Masur (BBM) drew some normative significance from the psychological studies of adaptability for punishment policy. In particular, they argued that retributivists and utilitarians alike are obliged on pain of inconsistency to take account of the fact that most prisoners, most of the time, adapt to imprisonment in fairly short order, and therefore suffer much less than most of us would expect. They also argued that ex-prisoners don't adapt well upon re-entry to society and that social planners should consider their post-release …


Bentham On Stilts: The Bare Relevance Of Subjectivity To Retributive Justice, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders Jan 2010

Bentham On Stilts: The Bare Relevance Of Subjectivity To Retributive Justice, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders

All Faculty Scholarship

In recent work, various scholars have challenged retributive justice theorists to pay more attention to the subjective experience of punishment, specifically how punishment affects the experiences and well-being of offenders. The claim developed by these “subjectivists” is that because people’s experiences with pain and suffering differ, both diachronically and inter-subjectively, their punishments will have to be tailored to individual circumstances as well.

Our response is that this set of claims, once scrutinized, is either true, but of limited significance, or nontrivial, but unsound. We don’t doubt the possibility that different people will react differently to the same infliction of punishment. …