Kant on Punishment: Between Retribution, Deterrence and Human Dignity

by Francesca Fantasia

This article aims at offering an organic understanding of different elements of the Kantian philosophical-juridical conception of punishment. After analyzing Kant’s argument in favour of the legitimacy of the punishment, I will single out two distinct levels of analysis: on the one hand, that of the conditions of punishability in general, where the function of punishment as retribution is outlined; on the other, that pertaining to the identification of a criterion to adjudicate the severity of a punishment. Particular attention is paid to the different functions performed, in a juridical context, by the concept of humanity as a sui generis human right: either drawing the boundaries of what can be object of punishment, or imposing limitations to the punishments a criminal can undergo. Finally, a long-overlooked element of Kantian theory is considered: his acknowledgment of a preventive-specific role of punishment, albeit limited to a pragmatic sphere.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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