skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 118761 Find in a Library
Title: Punishment
Journal: Law and Philosophy  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:(August 1988)  Pages:179-201
Author(s): S Sverdlik
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 23
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article critiques the concepts of punishment in the theories of three philosophers -- Hart, Feinberg, and Wasserstrom -- and offers the author's own analysis of the concept of punishment, followed by consideration of three practices that seem to be punishment but are doubtful for various reasons.
Abstract: The article notes that one persistent fault in punishment theories is the neglect of the idea that in punishment the person subjected to it is represented as having no valid excuse for wrongdoing. After emphasizing that the concept of an excuse creates a critical complication for any analysis of punishment, the author accepts and explains Wasserstrom's claim that punishment in its very nature is (at least partly) retributive. The author's arguments tend to support those, like Herbert Morris, who have said that punishment accords a certain dignity to the person subjected to it when contrasted with involuntary commitment to a mental hospital. The dignity of punishment is in presenting the one punished as being capable of controlling his/her behavior. Given the author's reasoning about punishment, the article examines the punishment of the innocent, strict liability, and pretrail detention. 31 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Punishment
Index Term(s): Criminal responsibility
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.