Retribution and Organic Unities

in Journal of Moral Philosophy
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Abstract

G.E. Moore argued that his principle of organic unities, according to which the value of a whole is to be distinguished from the value of the sum of its parts, is consistent with a retributivist view of punishment: both crime and punishment are intrinsic evils but the combination of the crime with the punishment of its perpetrator is less bad in itself than the crime unpunished. Moore’s principle excludes any form of retributivism that regards the punishment of a guilty person as an intrinsic good. Jonathan Dancy offers a different account of such unities on which, pace Moore, value does not necessarily stay the same from one context to another. This alternative account is defended, but still seems to create difficulties for various forms of retributivism.

Retribution and Organic Unities

in Journal of Moral Philosophy

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