JSI Seminar Series: Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice

30 May 2019



Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice

Speaker: Professor Gregg D. Caruso, Macquarie University

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. One such reason is that it is unclear that agents deserve to suffer for the wrongs they have done in the sense required for retributivism. After laying out three 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, Professor Caruso will introduce his public health-quarantine model, a non-retributive alternative for addressing criminal behaviour 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.

About the speaker

Gregg D. Caruso is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University. He is also Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network and Visiting Researcher at the University of Aberdeen School of Law. He is the author of Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will (2012), and Public Health and Safety: The Social Determinants of Health and Criminal Behavior (2017), as well as the editor of Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society (co-edited w/Elizabeth Shaw and Derk Pereboom), Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience (co-edited w/Owen Flanagan 2018), and Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2013).

CPD Points: 1.5


Time: 6-8pm

Location: Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown, University of Sydney

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 035545674e435658425c2d1f08263e4a4e58245d031b1014