Ethical Theory Of Utilitarianism And Legal Punishment

1407 Words 6 Pages
By using three types of punishment to reduce crime and balance good over evil, to benefit society, and to add support to using the ethical theory of utilitarianism to evaluate legal punishment, utilitarianism supports deterrence by attaching a punishment to a crime, incapacitation by confining an offender for a certain amount of time, or rehabilitation by improving an offender’s character so he/she will be less likely to break the law (Murtagh, n.d.). Furthermore, deterrence can be divided it into two categories, general deterrence, which is punishment that aims to prevent everyone from committing criminal behaviors and specific deterrence, which is punishment that tries to prevent the same person from committing crimes by making the physical …show more content…
This argument seems to stem from Bentham’s opposition to the death penalty as seen in the article by Berg (2010) in which he noted that Bentham opposed the death penalty based on reasons not supported by the utilitarian philosophy. These reasons were that when the death penalty is used, criminals are no longer able to benefit or repay society for their wrongdoing, no one benefitted from the criminal’s death, the punishment impacted every criminal the same regardless of background, intent, or motive, and the punishment was irreversible (Berg, 2010). Bentham did not apply his own utilitarian philosophy to the death penalty issue because he could not justify that “the disadvantages of the death penalty outweigh the advantages” (Berg, 2010, …show more content…
While the retributive theory is the counterpart to the utilitarian theory, in which offenders are punished because they deserve the punishment as they have upset the balance of a peaceful society, a third rationale for punishment is a hybrid of both utilitarianism and retribution called denunciation in which both theories are employed (Punishments-Theories of Punishments, 2017). While the United States concept of punishment is a combination of all three of these theories, offenders receive, in some form, retributive punishment, the most widely accepted rationale for punishment in the United States (Punishments-Theories of Punishments, 2017). The legal system reflects the utilitarian idea of limiting punishment to the extent as necessary in such programs as probation and parole in addition to “the assignment of different punishments for different crimes and in the notion that the amount of punishment a convicted criminal receives should be in proportion to the harm caused by the crime” (Punishments-Theories of Punishments,

Related Documents