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From Punishment to Recognition: Toward a Hegelian Theory of Criminal Justice

Hogan, Brandon (2014) From Punishment to Recognition: Toward a Hegelian Theory of Criminal Justice. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Many philosophers take it that the aim of a philosophical account of punishment is that of justifying the practice of punishment, understood as a form of harsh treatment inflicted on a person by the state because that person has violated some provision of the criminal law. In punishing, the state treats persons in ways that are prima-facie unjustified. The philosophical problem of punishment, as many philosophers understand it, is that of overcoming this prima-facie presumption against the justice of our punishment practices.

Understanding the philosopher’s task as that of justifying our punishment practices is misguided. Instead of seeking to develop theories that can justify our punishment practices, philosophers should concern themselves with answering the following question: “What are the proper goals of a criminal justice system?” In understanding philosophical accounts of punishment as responding to this question we do not prejudice the issue in favor of the status quo. In this work, I provide an answer to this reformed question that relies on the conception of punishment articulated by Hegel in his Philosophy of Right.

I contend that a well-functioning criminal justice system should seek to repair the various types of physical, psychological, and normative harms caused by acts of crime, thereby restoring a particular community to its pre-crime state. I understand punishment not as an act in which the state inflicts harsh treatment on the criminal, but one in which the state recognizes the criminal by coercing him in a way that allows him to aid in the restoration of his community and puts him in a position to become a free, self-conscious member of his community. I contend, therefore, that we should understand punishment not as a form of harsh treatment, but as a form of recognition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberSetiya, Kierankis23@pitt.eduKIS23
Committee MemberEngstrom, Stephenengstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Committee MemberPallikkathayil, Japajapa@pitt.eduJAPA
Committee MemberShelby,
Date: 4 February 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 December 2013
Approval Date: 4 February 2014
Submission Date: 8 January 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 236
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Punishment, Hegel, Philosophy of Law
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2014 17:26
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:16


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