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Hsin-wen, Lee. Does the death penalty only deter ‘rational’ people?
2018, Delaware State News
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Hsin-Wen Lee
Abstract: I argue that the death penalty has only limited deterrent effect. It cannot deter three types of offenders: (1) those who do not fear death; (2) those who are not rational and cannot take into consideration the consequences of their actions; (3) those who are confident that they won't be caught. Thus, in order to deter potential murderers, we must consider new ways to deter these three types of offenders.

Comment: The article is written for for a general audience. It considers the deterrence argument in favor of the death penalty. It should be useful for GE courses that cover the topic of the death penalty.

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Hsin-wen, Lee. Taking Deterrence Seriously: The Wide-Scope Deterrence Theory of Punishment
2017, Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (1):2-24.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Hsin-Wen Lee
Abstract: A deterrence theory of punishment holds that the institution of criminal punishment is morally justified because it serves to deter crime. Because the fear of external sanction is an important incentive in crime deterrence, the deterrence theory is often associated with the idea of severe, disproportionate punishment. An objection to this theory holds that hope of escape renders even the severest punishment inapt and irrelevant.This article revisits the concept of deterrence and defend a more plausible deterrence theory of punishment - the wide-scope deterrence theory. The wide-scope theory holds that we must make the best use of all the deterrence tools available, including both external and internal sanctions. Drawing on insights from the early Confucian tradition, the article develops a deep deterrence theory, which holds that the most important deterrence tool involves internal, not external, sanction. It describes how internal sanctions deter potential offenses and why relevant policies need not conflict with liberalism's respect for neutrality.

Comment: This text can be used in courses such as Philosophy of Law and/or Social and Political Philosophy.

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Lai, Ten-Herng. Civil Disobedience, Costly Signals, and Leveraging Injustice
2021, Ergo 7(40): 1083-1108
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Civil disobedience, despite its illegal nature, can sometimes be justified vis-à-vis the duty to obey the law, and, arguably, is thereby not liable to legal punishment. However, adhering to the demands of justice and refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience may lead to a highly problematic theoretical consequence: the debilitation of civil disobedience. This is because, according to the novel analysis I propose, civil disobedience primarily functions as a costly social signal. It is effective by being reliable, reliable by being costly, and costly primarily by being punished. My analysis will highlight a distinctive feature of civil disobedience: civil disobedients leverage the punitive injustice they suffer to amplify their communicative force. This will lead to two paradoxical implications. First, the instability of the moral status of both civil disobedience and its punishment to the extent where the state may be left with no permissible course of action with regard to punishing civil disobedience. Second, by refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience, the state may render uncivil disobedience—illegal political activities that fall short of the standards of civil disobedience—potentially permissible.

Comment: Talks about civil disobedience, especially on how its punishment can be problematic.

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Zimmermann, Annette. Criminal Disenfranchisement and the Concept of Political Wrongdoing
2019, Philosophy & Public Affairs 47 (4), 378-411.
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Annette Zimmermann

Abstract: Disagreement persists about when, if at all, disenfranchisement is a fitting response to criminal wrongdoing of type X. Positive retributivists endorse a permissive view of fittingness: on this view, disenfranchising a remarkably wide range of morally serious criminal wrongdoers is justified. But defining fittingness in the context of criminal disenfranchisement in such broad terms is implausible, since many crimes sanctioned via disenfranchisement have little to do with democratic participation in the first place: the link between the nature of a criminal act X (the ‘desert basis’) and a fitting sanction Y is insufficiently direct in such cases. I define a new, much narrower account of the kind of criminal wrongdoing which is a more plausible desert basis for disenfranchisement: ‘political wrongdoing’, such as electioneering, corruption, or conspiracy with foreign powers. I conclude that widespread blanket and post-incarceration disenfranchisement policies are overinclusive, because they disenfranchise persons guilty of serious, but non-political, criminal wrongdoing. While such overinclusiveness is objectionable in any context, it is particularly objectionable in circumstances in which it has additional large-scale collateral consequences, for instance by perpetuating existing structures of racial injustice. At the same time, current policies are underinclusive, thus hindering the aim of holding political wrongdoers accountable.

Comment: This paper critically assesses existing arguments in the philosophy of criminal law on the permissibility of criminal disenfranchisement; develops a novel negative retributivist argument; argues that current criminal disenfranchisement are much too overinclusive, but also underinclusive.

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