The Therapeutic Function of Punishment in Aristotle

by Flavia Farina

In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle describes punishment as a sort of cure. However, a well-defined and complex theory of punishment is nowhere to be found in Aristotle’s works: all mentions of punishment occur in works significantly different in focus and the argumentative contexts also vary. Despite these difficulties, as Aristotle states that punishment is a cure, the possibility to ascribe to Aristotle a reformative theory of punishment will be taken into account. The aim of this paper is thus twofold: on one side, I will argue that while a theory of punishment is indeed to be found, punishment itself is not to be reduced to one simple function. I will further argue that, while Aristotle is skeptical about the possibility of changing one’s character, the possibility of a reformative theory of punishment is consistent with his claims about the ‘almost’ impossibility of moral reform.

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

 Read the full article