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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Janice E. Moskalik
PHIL 314
Seattle Campus

Philosophy of Crime and Punishment

Examination of philosophical theories regarding criminal habits and punishment and the philosophical problems connected with specific topics in criminal law. Examines proper subject matter of criminal law (drug use, pornography, euthanasia); limits of criminal sanctions; crime and privilege (corporate crime, white-collar crime, blackmail); justifications for punishment; mercy; and execution.

Class description

What is punishment? What justifies legal punishment? Who should we punish? What limits (if any) should there be on the scope of the criminally punishable offences? Should we ever exempt or excuse persons from criminal responsibility? What role should mercy play in sentencing? What is the relationship of criminal responsibility to moral responsibility? This course is intended for students who are interested in thinking carefully, critically and philosophically about criminal punishment. We will explore some of the notions implied by the above questions, and consider in detail utilitarian and retributivist arguments for the imposition of criminal sanctions on wrongdoers. Previous experience in philosophy (other than 120) strongly recommended, especially PHIL 240 and/or 114. TEXTS: Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law, H.L.A. Hart; The Classical Utilitarians: Bentham and Mill, John Troyer, ed.; and a coursepak.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Annette R. Bernier
Date: 11/01/2012