Two Theories Of Utilitarian And Retributive Punishment

1561 Words7 Pages
The concept of punishment exists in many different forms, each with conflicting views on how to best approach an offence committed by individuals. Two theories stand at the forefront of punishment being that of the Utilitarian, and Retributive theories. Each theory presents its own idea on how punishment ought to be carried out and the core reasoning behind it. The two theories are also debated within our own Canadian legal system which is referred to as: The Criminal Code of Canada, where it details the different principles and procedures when sentencing an individual who has committed a specific offence with guidelines for what sanction should be given. Such principles/procedures reflect various factors within the two theories, and have undergone different fluctuations for which theory has dominated throughout history, but have been influenced more by one theory than from the other. Generally speaking, punishment is invoked upon offenders for the pursuit of the common good of mankind for a society that prospers, and not one that is hindered. Two primary theorists each lead one of the theories of punishment and what its purpose is; one who stands from a Utilitarian view is Jeremy Bentham, and the other being Immanuel Kant who focuses on a more Retributive theory of punishment.

The two theories of Utilitarian and Retributive Punishment each have their own views on what the purpose of punishment is, and of how it is to be invoked in the case of a breach of rules by an offender. Jeremy Bentham makes his debut by focusing on the theory of Utilitarianism which is subdivided into two other theories; the Theory of the Good (also referred to as: Hedonism), where good is pleasure and evil is pain; and the Theory of the Right (also known as: Consequentialism), which outlines that the right action is that which produces the maximum good of all available actions. Bentham as a theorist, believes that the primary goal of laws is to prevent wrongful actions where he summarizes in his opening to Chapter XIII of An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation: “The general object which all laws have, or ought to have, in common, is to augment the total happiness of the community; and therefore, in the first
Get Access