Course Name: 

The central aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to examine philosophical issues surrounding the institution of punishment and in doing so to give them a more general introduction to moral, political and legal philosophy. In the first unit we will explore the two major moral theories: Consequentialism and Deontology. A basic knowledge of these theories will be necessary to understand the standard attempts to justify punishment. In the second unit we will examine various attempts to justify the institution of punishment (Retribution, Deterrence and Rehabilitation) and consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The third unit will explore the more specific topic of capital punishment; we will examine philosophical arguments alongside actual cases heard by the US Supreme Court. The fourth unit will allow us to engage with fundamental questions, such as “ do humans have free will” and “do humans deserve certain things”, and explore their relevance to attempts to justify punishment. In the final unit we will explore Socrates’ reactions to the punishment that he faces and Foucault’s self-avowed skepticism about the legitimacy of punishment.

Semester/Year Offered: 
Summer 2014