Socrates Exchange: Why do we punish?

Apr 15, 2011

Why should we punish?  To “balance the scales of justice”?  To exact revenge?  To deter crime?  To remove the offender from free society?  To reform the offender? Is punishment a moral act, or is it simply a form of social control? Is punishing children different from punishing criminal offenders? Is there a difference between torture and punishment? Is death ever justifiable punishment? Does punishment strip the punished of her dignity? Which rights should prisoners loose?  The right to vote?  The right to privacy?  The right to be a parent? Should convicts have the option of paying a fine rather than serving time? Should corporate crimes resulting in death carry punishments similar to those for murder?


  • Max Latona, Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Anselm College