Corporal Punishment : A Philosophical Assessment book cover
1st Edition

Corporal Punishment
A Philosophical Assessment

ISBN 9780367594565
Published August 14, 2020 by Routledge
254 Pages

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Book Description

The aim of this book is to assess the moral permissibility of corporal punishment and to enquire into whether or not it ought to be legally prohibited. Against the widespread view that corporal punishment is morally legitimate and should be legally permitted provided it falls short of abuse, Patrick Lenta argues that all corporal punishment, even parental spanking, is morally impermissible and ought to be legally proscribed. The advantages claimed for corporal punishment over alternative disciplinary techniques, he contends, are slight or speculative and are far outweighed by its disadvantages. He presents, in addition, a rights-based case against corporal punishment, arguing that children possess certain fundamental rights that all corporal punishment of them violates, namely the right to security of the person and the right not to be subjected to degrading punishment. Lenta’s approach is unique in that it engages with empirical literature in the social sciences in order to fully examine the emotional and psychological effects of corporal punishment on children. Corporal Punishment: A Philosophical Assessment is a philosophically rigorous and engaging treatment of a hitherto neglected topic in applied ethics and social philosophy. 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Benefits and Costs of Corporal Punishment

3. Children’s Rights and Security of the Person

4. Is Corporal Punishment Degrading, Cruel or Torturous?

5. Ought Corporal Punishment to be Criminalized?

6. Animals and Criminals

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Patrick Lenta is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. He has published papers in journals including Criminal Law and Philosophy, Criminal Justice Ethics, Ratio Juris, Social Theory and Practice, Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Journal of the Philosophy of Sport.


"Lenta's book is the most thoroughly argued, well documented and best-written study of the pros and cons of corporal punishment to have been written by a philosopher for many years. Whether one accepts its main conclusions or not, it has 'must read' status for anyone, from professor to undergraduate student, who is interested in this topic." --Geoffrey Scarre in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"In his thorough, empirically informed, and accessible discussion of corporal punishment, Patrick Lenta provides the strongest argument I have seen for a categorical opposition to all such punishment. Dare I say that he gives the practice of corporal punishment a sound thrashing? Anybody who thinks that corporal punishment is at least sometimes morally permissible—or that it ought ever to be legal—will have to reckon with his arguments." --David Benatar, University of Cape Town

"This book offers the most compelling, well-researched, and philosophically rigorous case yet published that the corporal punishment of children is egregiously immoral and should be criminalized. It is essential reading for anyone interested in how we should treat children." --Dave Archard, Queen’s University Belfast

"In the last 20 years there has been a resurgence of interest on the topic of children’s rights. Curiously, very little has been done on the issue of corporal punishment. In this book Patrick Lenta weaves together moral, legal, and psychological considerations resulting in a compelling argument against corporal punishment that will frame future debate on the issue." --Mark Vopat, Youngstown State University, USA