This lecture explores puzzles of distributing retributive desert. Even if one takes giving people what they negatively deserve to be intrinsically good, one must confront questions of distribution.
First, are there times when the means principle prevents giving people what they deserve? For example, if a citizen does not believe that it is intrinsically good to make offenders suffer, may she be coercively taxed to support it? Second, does retributivism have anything to say about the form and timing of punishment or about how to select among the deserving? That is, if the state must pick a form of punishment or must choose the kinds of crime to focus upon, does retributivism contribute to these selection questions, or are they determined by other considerations? Finally, should distributions take into account differential susceptibilities to punishment or prior undeserved suffering? For instance, should it matter that the rich and poor do not experience the same fine as equally punitive?
Kimberly Kessler Ferzan is Harrison Robertson Professor of Law and Caddell and Chapman Professor of Law, University of
Virginia School of Law.
Jeremy Horder is Professor of Criminal Law and Head of LSE Law.
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