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Contemporary Debates on Punishment Theory

Speaker: Fernando Bracaccini, PhD Researcher in Philosophy, KU Leuven, JSD, Yale University

Moderator: Stephen Minas, Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law

Date & Time: February 29, 2024 (Thursday), 7:00 PM (Beijing Time)

Location (In-Person Presentation): STL 207

Language: English

Abstract: The talk will address the main debates about the justification of punishment. With that aim, I will briefly provide a conceptual approach to what punishment is and outline the relevance of this practice worldwide. Afterward, I will focus on the question of whether punishing people is morally justified. First, I will explain what it means for punishment to stand in need of justification. Second, I will briefly introduce the two main traditional approaches to justify punishment, namely consequentialism and retributivism. Third, and finally, I will discuss three arguments provided by contemporary authors to justify punishment, which belong to the consequentialist, retributivist, and expressivist traditions. I will explore the strengths and weaknesses of each argument.

Short Bio: Fernando Bracaccini holds a JSD from Yale University and is currently a PhD Researcher in Philosophy at KU Leuven. His research focuses on the philosophy of criminal law, particularly criminalization theory, the state’s authority to punish, and the interplay between punishment, blame, and forgiveness.

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