Punishment : The Supposed Justifications Revisited

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-- A classic book transformed by a philosopher at his strongest -- Reviews of the first edition: 'Painstaking, comprehensive and unimpassioned.' Anthony Kenny, New Statesman 'Bold, tough, direct style ...a pleasure to read.' Mary Warnock, Times Literary Supplement 'A rational and civilised book ...sane, thorough and socially radical.' Jonathan Glover, Inquiry Ted Honderich's Punishment is the best-known book on the justifications put forward for state punishment. This enlarged and developed edition brings his writing to a new audience. With new chapters on determinism and responsibility, plus a new conclusion, the book also remains true to its original realism about almost all talk of retribution and proportionality. Honderich investigates all the commonsensical notions of why and when punishment is morally necessary, engaging with the language of public debate by politicians and other public figures. Honderich then puts forward his own argument that punishment is legitimate when it is in accord with the principle of humanity. Written in a clear, sharp style and seasoned with a dry wit, this is the most important work on the reasoning behind our penal systems.
It is a pleasure to read for philosophers and non-philosophers alike.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 136 x 214 x 22mm | 498.96g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised edition
  • 0745321321
  • 9780745321325

About Ted Honderich

Ted Honderich is Grote Professor Emeritus at University College London and author of numerous books on philosophy including After the Terror (Edinburgh University Press, 2002), How Free Are You? (Oxford University Press, 2001), and editor of The Philosophers: Introducing Great Western Thinkers (Oxford University Press, 2001). He is also the editor of the Oxford Companion to Philosophy.
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Table of contents

Introduction 1 Problem 2 Backward-Looking Theories 3 Grievance-Satisfaction 4 Utilitarian Prevention Theory, Etc. 5. Reform, Rehabilitation, Treatment 6. Determinism 7 Compromise Theories of Punishment 8 Non-Problem, Other Conclusions Acknowledgements Notes Index
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Review quote

This book would be invaluable for anyone who wants to start thinking seriously about what justifies punishment, not only because it surveys a high proportion of the classical literature but because it connects theories in broad yet subtle ways. It adroitly anticipates the reader's objections. It combines impressive breath with meticulous dissection of ideas. Its conclusion is refreshingly iconoclastic. It contains wit and a healthy contempt for politicians. -- Metapsychology This book is something of a curiosity, an application of the reputedly nitpicking techniques of British analytical philosophy to a question of real practical importance which can easily be recognised as such. Honderich does emphasis that we cannot look at punishments in the abstract without considering the substantive laws (of property in particular) which they are intended to protect. He says, obviously rightly, that the greatest enthusiasts for punishments are believers in immutable property rights and is properly scathing about Nozick, the American rights theorist about whom Bentham's expression 'nonsense on stilts' might have been coined. -- Rory O'Kelly, Chartist Sir Isaiah Berlin's...essays...amount to more than intellectual history...The new book on punishment by Ted Honderich seems to me a very good example of philosophy in the midst of recovery -- Norman Care, The New Republic
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Rating details

13 ratings
3.46 out of 5 stars
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4 69% (9)
3 8% (1)
2 23% (3)
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