justice, retributive

justice, retributive
(rectificatory) The idea of seeking to balance an injustice by rectifying the situation, or by regaining an equality that the injustice overturned. It is most simply summed up in the principle of ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’. Rectification suggests taking from the offender and giving to the injured party, whereas retribution acknowledges that this is sometimes impossible (e.g. if the victim is dead), but embodies the idea that an offence may ‘cry out’ for punishment, and that the moral order is out of balance until this is administered. Such an idea is clearly difficult to reconcile with forward-looking, consequentialist moralities, since it makes no reference to the goods achieved by the retribution, but simply sees it as an end in itself. See also punishment.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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