• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The only punishment that can achieve justice is retribution DISCUSS

Extracts from this document...


'The only punishment that can achieve justice is retribution' DISCUSS (30 marks) 'The concept of punishment - its definition - and its practical application and justification during the past half-century have shown a marked drift away from efforts to reform and rehabilitate offenders in favour of retribution and incarceration'1 Retribution is the idea of 'just-deserts' and sees that the offender pays for what they have done, showing them the consequences of their action by a suitable punishment according to the crime. James Rachels believes this idea of a criminal being 'paid back' fits with people's natural feelings. This form of punishment asserts individual responsibility in the performance of free acts and helps to vindicate the victim/s and their families. I think that whether this form of punishment is just or not depends upon the punishment which is utilized and on how 'immoral' the crime is. The idea of morality and crime has been around for as long as we are aware of, however different cultures have varying views on what is right and what is wrong (cultural relativism) ...read more.


A positive legalist would say that whatever the penal code assigns to their offence, this should be the punishment they receive. Whilst others would argue that offenders should be punished according to the moral culpability of the crime. This makes it difficult to serve punishments as for every crime the situation should be taken into account as well as the effect on the victim, so a deontological system would fail as it is too restraining. An example of this is if the penal code stated that the crime of stealing should be punishable by incarceration, somebody who was stealing food for their starving family should surely be less punished that somebody who stole in order to improve their personal wealth. A problem with retribution is that it tends to slip away from justice and towards vengeance, serving the criminal with perhaps more than necessary to stop them from reoffending, making it counter-productive. It also doesn't sit well with many Christian ideas, for example Christ's focus on forgiveness and reconciliation. Another problem is that the wrong person may be accused and therefore punished falsely. ...read more.


It is based on rationality. By showing the consequences of actions, people will know exactly what to expect if they go against the rules. Bernard Hoose writes that Utilitarians justify the pain inflicted upon the criminal by the greater happiness of a society with less crime. This raises the practical question of whether punishments actually work. I believe that this form of punishment may work for minor crimes such as speeding, almost like a reminder to society of how they should behave, however for major crimes I believe that everyone innately knows that they are wrong, and know the consequences, but they still happen. Overall, I believe the best approach to be reformation as it gets into the mind of a criminal and attempts to identify the problems; even though it is flawed I believe it to be more humane and forgiving than retribution. Perhaps, for those people who reformation fails on, incarceration is the answer, however I think that it is never too late to change a humans mind. 1 'punishment' http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/punishment/ First published Fri Jun 13, 2003; substantive revision Fri Feb 19, 2010 2 Commandment number Four 3 Commandment number Six ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Essay on Law vs. Justice

    codify all ethical requirements; 2.) An individual or a group may perceive a given law as immoral, not as a guide to ethical behavior In today's world it is all too prevalent to see more and more people hungry to gain success at an ever-increasing rate.

  2. Should capital punishment be reinstated?

    these circumstances not punishable by death or for having degrees of murder as in the USA. The rates for unlawful killings in Britain have more than doubled since abolition of capital punishment. Home Office figures show around unlawful killings 300 in 1964, which rose to 565 in 1994 and 833 in 2004.

  1. Capital Punishment

    In 1969 Pope Paul IV removed Capital Punishment from the 'fundamental law'. At the time, these figurines took up a majority vote when abolishing Capital Punishment. By doing this, they successfully were one of the main figures to be featured in the abolishment of Capital Punishment in the UK.

  2. The concept of hell makes no sense discuss

    go to hell if they didn't believe in God and follow the bible word for word. He also interviewed an Islamic extremist who explained that the main aim of the terrorist attacks which take place were because young Muslims believe they will die a martyr's death and receive the ultimate

  1. "Humanitarian intervention, which is ruled out by realism and the morality of states, can ...

    The doctrine of cultural relativism "implies the inapplicability of moral judgments to beyond one's own culture."4 It argues that moral standards are relative to communities, and that there are no universal objective moral standards, that the standards are only applicable to these cultures.

  2. Is Christ a Kantian?

    This article is divided into 5 sections. The first section deals with the philosophical limitations of Kantian Ethics. The second section shows how the philosophy of Christ can help us resolve such problems. The third section deals with the complete explanation of ethics.

  1. Capital Punishment - analyse the views of Ernest van den Haag and Hugo Adam ...

    Both Bedau and Haag discuss capital punishment and take relatively different sides about similar issues. Both construct their arguments discussing issues such as capital punishment and its unjust application, its deterrence ability and the possible execution of innocent people. Haag takes on the position of pro capital punishment and argues

  2. DNA and capital punishment

    obviously want to hear.The mentally challenged will likely give a false confession because they are either lead to believe that they did something wrong or they are trying to please the officers and tell them what they think the officers want to hear.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work