Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 129–147 | Cite as

Retributarianism: A New Individualization of Punishment

  • Hadar Dancig-RosenbergEmail author
  • Netanel Dagan
Original Paper


This article seeks to reveal, conceptualize, and analyze a trend in the development of the retributive theory of punishment since the beginning of the 21st century. We term this trend “retributarianism.” It is reflected in the emergence of retributive approaches that through expanding the concepts of censure and culpability extend the relevant time-frame for assessing the deserved punishment beyond the sentencing moment. These retributarian approaches are characterized by the individualization of retributivism. On one hand, retributarianism shares with classic retributivism the rhetoric of justice, a focus on the moral evaluation of the severity of the offense, and the primary importance ascribed to maintaining proportionality. On the other hand, it shares with utilitarianism the possibility of taking into account, in addition to the severity of the offense, the offender’s personal circumstances, with a future-oriented perspective that also considers developments subsequent to the commission of the offense. This article analyzes the emergence of retributarianism, suggests possible explanations for its development, and assesses its possible implications for penal theory and policy.


Philosophy of punishment Punishment theories Retributarianism Retribution Utilitarianism Just desert Penal theory 



The authors are grateful to Samuel Baron, Ariel Bendor, Antony Duff, Shachar Eldar, Arnold Enker, Malcolm Feeley, Doug Husak, Ruth Kannai, Chris Kutz, John Pratt, Julian Roberts, Gil Rothschild-Elyassi, Leslie Sebba, Yoram Shachar, Jonathan Simon and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The authors have contributed equally to this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UC Berkeley School of LawBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Bar-Ilan University Faculty of LawRamat-GanIsrael
  3. 3.The Supreme Court of IsraelJerusalemIsrael

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