On the Possibility and Permissibility of Interpersonal Punishment

Author/s: Laura Gillespie, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Dissertation
Year: 2020

Abstract: In the dissertation, I consider the permissibility of a familiar set of responses to wrongdoing in our interpersonal relationships—those responses that constitute the imposition of some cost upon the wrongdoer. Some of these responses are, I argue, properly considered punishing, and some of these instances of punishing are in turn permissible. Punishment as I understand it is a broad phenomenon, common in and to all human relationships, and not exclusively or even primarily the domain of the state. Personal interactions expressive of wrong-reactive attitudes like disappointment, anger, and guilt will sometimes constitute punishment so understood. I consider childhood punishment, self-punishment, and punishment between friends, concluding that punishment in the context of our personal relationships may sometimes be appropriate where undertaken not for the sake of deterrence nor of retributive justice, but for the sake of the aims constitutive of the relationship in which it occurs.

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