Justice, Retributive

Retributive justice concerns fairly blaming or punishing people for their wrongdoing. Descriptions of retributive justice are found throughout recorded history. Often the notion of retributive justice is described as “an eye for an eye,” a concept that provides the basis for Western theories of punishment.

Those who favor punishment based on concepts of retributive justice believe that treating people as responsible adults is core to recognizing the essential humanity of each person. To not deny someone the privilege of being held responsible for his or her choice is treating them as less than a full human being or as a child. Thus, those who align themselves in the deontological tradition—duty and rationality governing our search for the ideal—are often vocal proponents of retribution for wrongdoing.

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