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Title: Blame-based expressivism : explaining the permissibility of state punishment using Scanlonian blame
Author: Firth, Joanna M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 0587
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis argues that it is all-things-considered permissible for the state to punish citizens who commit criminal wrongs. It does this by combining elements of expressive and rights forfeiture theories of punishment. It argues that when one citizen criminally wrongs another, this damages her relationship with that citizen and the citizenry-at-large. Citizens have special citizenship rights against each other, grounded on the fact that they stand in a special relationship with each other. Thus when a criminal wrongdoer damages this relationship, the state (acting on behalf of the citizenry-at-large) is licensed to suspend their special citizenship rights from them. There is positive value in it suspending these rights because it expresses moral criticism of the wrongdoer. I argue the right to roam freely around a state’s territory and the right to vote are citizenship rights which can be suspended. I argue that prison and vote removal therefore are permissible forms of punishment. According to my theory, however, there are strict limits on the rights that can be suspended from wrongdoers: there is no justification for removing rights that are not grounded on the special citizenship relationship, such as basic rights to lead a minimally decent life. This has implications for the types of prison that can be permitted. My thesis contributes to the literature in three main ways: First, it develops and defends two initially appealing types of theory – expressivist and rights forfeiture - which have nonetheless been dismissed by many philosophers. Second, it is unusual in playing explicit attention to the important question of which forms punishment can permissibly take. Third, it discusses what conditions in prison should be like. This is an area of great moral importance, but it is chronically under-researched by philosophers.
Supervisor: Miller, David Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Society of Applied Philosophy ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available