punishment
The deliberate infliction of harm upon somebody, or the withdrawal of some good from them, by an authority, in response to their being supposed to have committed some offence. Sometimes punishment may be inflicted upon an animal, or ritualistically upon an inanimate thing. The philosophical problem with punishment is that since it involves the infliction of some kind of harm, or deprivation of some kind of good, it transgresses normal ethical boundaries, and therefore requires specific ethical justification. The major elements in such a justification have been felt to be: (i) retribution: if a person has inflicted some harm on another, then justice requires retribution (see also justice, retributive ); (ii) reparation: if a person has harmed another, then he owes a duty of reparation to the victim, which his punishment provides; (iii) reformation: the harm inflicted teaches the criminal to behave better in the future; (iv) deterrence: knowledge of the penalties deters potential offenders; (v) prevention: an offender who is deprived of opportunity (e.g. by being imprisoned) cannot repeat the offence. Features (iii) and (iv) are often conjoined with (v), in an indirect utilitarian approach, in which it is argued that a society with an institution of punishment in place will enjoy better conditions of life than any without it. A thought more popular among judges than philosophers is that punishment simply expresses society's revulsion at some kind of behaviour, and needs no other defence. The difficulty is that judges are often revolted by too many things, such as long hair, youth, and poverty.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • punishment — pun·ish·ment n 1: the act of punishing 2: a penalty (as a fine or imprisonment) inflicted on an offender through the judicial and esp. criminal process see also cruel and unusual punishment Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster …   Law dictionary

  • punishment —    Punishment is the infliction of something bad (frequently, but not necessarily, pain or a loss of freedom) on a wrongdoer because of a wrong committed. Philosophical debate centres on the question of how, if at all, punishment can be justified …   Christian Philosophy

  • Punishment — Pun ish*ment, n. 1. The act of punishing. [1913 Webster] 2. Any pain, suffering, or loss inflicted on a person because of a crime or offense. [1913 Webster] I never gave them condign punishment. Shak. [1913 Webster] The rewards and punishments of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • punishment — late 13c., from Anglo Fr. punisement (13c.), O.Fr. punissement, from punir (see PUNISH (Cf. punish)). Meaning “rough handling” is from 1811 …   Etymology dictionary

  • punishment — [n] penalty abuse, amercement, beating, castigation, chastening, chastisement, comeuppance, confiscation, correction, deprivation, disciplinary action, discipline, forfeit, forfeiture, gallows, hard work, infliction, just desserts*, lumps,… …   New thesaurus

  • punishment — ► NOUN 1) the action of punishing or the state of being punished. 2) the penalty imposed for an offence. 3) informal harsh or rough treatment …   English terms dictionary

  • punishment — [pun′ish mənt] n. 1. a punishing or being punished 2. a penalty imposed on an offender for a crime or wrongdoing 3. harsh or injurious treatment …   English World dictionary

  • Punishment — The old village stocks in Chapeltown, Lancashire, England For other uses, see Punishment (disambiguation). Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong… …   Wikipedia

  • PUNISHMENT — While there is no modern theory of punishment that cannot, in some form or other, be traced back to biblical concepts, the original and foremost purpose of punishment in biblical law was the appeasement of God. God abhors the criminal ways of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • punishment — /pun ish meuhnt/, n. 1. the act of punishing. 2. the fact of being punished, as for an offense or fault. 3. a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc. 4. severe handling or treatment. [1250 1300; ME punysshement < AF punisement, OF… …   Universalium

  • punishment — n. 1) to administer, mete out punishment to 2) to impose, inflict punishment on 3) to escape; suffer, take punishment 4) cruel, cruel and unusual; harsh, severe; just; light, mild punishment 5) capital; corporal; summary punishment 6) (mil.)… …   Combinatory dictionary

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