Law and Philosophy

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 601–631 | Cite as

The Expressivist Theory of Punishment Defended



Expressivist theories of punishment received largely favorable treatment in the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps predictably, the 2000s saw a slew of critical rejections of the view. It is now becoming evident that, while several objections to expressivism have found their way into print, three concerns are proving particularly popular. So the time is right for a big picture assessment. What follows is an attempt to show that these three dominant objections are not decisive reasons to give up the most plausible forms of the view. Moreover, in addition to the three common objections, expressivism has an acknowledged question mark concerning whether the value of punitive expression outweighs its drawbacks. Here I also map out some promising avenues that the expressivist can take to answer this question.


Expressive Theory Communicative Theory Moral Outrage Hard Treatment Plausible Form 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Department, Center for Ethics, Law, and SocietySonoma State UniversityRohnert ParkUSA

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