Retributive Justice

  • Robert Hogan
  • Nicholas P. Emler
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)

Abstract

The reader might pause and reflect for a moment on the foregoing sentence. It is the only surviving fragment from the first known work of our civilization, Anaximander’s cosmology. The sentence hints at the role of retribution as an organizing force in nature and therefore in human affairs. For the Greeks, retribution was the iron law of the universe; it was equally the silent assumption on which Greek morality and Greek science was based. It is curious that a notion so fundamental at the beginning of a civilization is so infrequently remarked on in its later history. Piaget (1932/1965) captured the modern attitude when he observed that young children think of justice in terms of retribution. Older, more mature, and therefore more cognitively advanced children think of justice in terms of the equal distribution of rewards. The moral is clear: young children and persons with similarly limited intellectual perspectives endorse retributive justice. But as they grow, mature, and progress, they transcend their earlier limitations and take on a more enlightened viewpoint. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that despite this modern attitude, retribution remains a critical perspective from which to understand how the concept of justice functions at the level of the individual.

Keywords

Distributive Justice Moral Development Equity Theory Human Affair Retributive Justice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Hogan
    • 1
  • Nicholas P. Emler
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeDundeeScotland

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