Moral Pluralism and the Complexity of Punishment
The Penal Philosophy of H.L.A. Hart
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This book advances a new interpretation of Hart’s penal philosophy. Positioning itself in opposition to current interpretations, the book argues that Hart does not defend a mixed theory of punishment, nor a rule-utilitarian theory of punishment, nor a liberal form of utilitarianism, nor a goal and constraint approach. Rather, it is argued, his penal philosophy is based on his moral pluralism, which comprises two aspects: value pluralism and pluralism with respect to forms of moral reason. It is held that this means, on the one hand, that criminal law has an irreducible complexity due to the compromises it makes to accommodate competing values, and on the other hand, that there need not be one single justification of punishment. This original interpretation is not based only on Hart’s key volume on the subject Punishment and Responsibility, but on a careful reading of his complete works. The book will be a valuable resource for academics and researchers interested in Hart’s philosophy, the philosophy of law and criminal law.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction; 1. The foundations of Hart’s master idea; 2. The definition of punishment; 3. The justification of punishment; 4. Criminal responsibility; 5. Sentencing; 6. The Hart/Wootton debate; 7. Conclusion; Index
Nicolas Nayfeld is a postdoctoral fellow at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he teaches philosophy of law.