Title: Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice
Speaker: Greg Caruso (SUNY Corning, Philosophy)
Date: Thursday, February 4, 2020
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Abstract: One of the most prominent justifications of legal punishment, historically and currently, is retributivism, according to which wrongdoers deserve the imposition of a penalty solely for the backward-looking reason that they have knowingly done wrong. While retributivism provides one of the main sources of justification for punishment within the criminal justice system, there are good philosophical and practical reasons for rejecting it. The dual aims of this talk will be to argue against retributivism and develop a viable alternative that is both ethically defensible and practical. After sketching six distinct reasons for rejecting retributivism, two of which have to do with the possibility that agents lack the kind of free will and moral responsibility needed to ground retributive punishment, Dr. Caruso will introduce his public health-quarantine model, a non-retributive alternative for addressing criminal behavior that draws on the public health framework and prioritizes prevention and social justice. He will argue that the public health-quarantine model is not only an ethically defensible and practically workable alternative to retributive punishment, it is more humane than retributivism and preferable to other non-retributive alternatives.
Bio: Gregg D. Caruso is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning, Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University, and Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network (JWRN) at the University of Aberdeen School of Law. His research interests include free will, agency, and responsibility (both moral and legal), as well as philosophy of mind, moral psychology, criminal law, punishment, social and political philosophy, and public policy. His books include Just Deserts: Debating Free Will (co-authored w/Daniel Dennett), Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice (2021), Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will (2012), Public Health and Safety (2017), Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2013), Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience (co-edited w/Owen Flanagan); and Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society (co-edited w/Elizabeth Shaw and Derk Pereboom).