Kant, Retributivism, and Civic Respect

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on recasting the retributivism of Immanuel Kant, grounding it in his demands for civic respect and political equality. Historically, many have thought of Kant's account of the purpose and justification of punishment for legal offenses as a paradigm example of thoroughgoing retributivism. The chapter offers a detailed examination of the justification Kant provides for legal punishment, the purposes he recognizes, the protections he demands, and the principles he enunciates to guide the structuring of a penal system. What Kant endorses, it suggests, is a modern retributivist penal theory focused on civic respect for persons as citizens, with implications not only for institutions, laws, and policies, but for citizen attitudes and commitments. To illustrate significant differences between this view and classical retributivism, the chapter applies it to the famous Miranda decision and warnings, as well as a recent case of punishment perceived to be overly lenient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRetributivism
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Theory and Policy
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199895342
ISBN (Print)9780199752232
StatePublished - May 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press, 2013.


  • Civic respect
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Justice
  • Miranda
  • Penal system
  • Political equality
  • Punishment
  • Retributivism


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