Tocqueville’s Moderate Penal Theory

  • Emily Katherine Ferkaluk
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)


In its analysis of nineteenth-century American penal goals, On the Penitentiary System presents a balanced view of human nature, a form of self-knowledge that penal reformers need when attempting to morally reform an individual via an institution. Ferkaluk argues that Tocqueville and Beaumont answer the question of whether incarceration should seek to perfect or restrain prisoners by articulating a specific relationship between body, mind, and soul as the moderating limit to penal discipline. The association between human nature and effective penal reform is explored through three contrasting pairs of elements in the American penitentiary system: theory and experience, solitude and labor, and corporal punishment and religion. Discussion of each element reveals the authors’ critique of immoderate penal imaginations which hinder the French from reforming the whole human being.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Katherine Ferkaluk
    • 1
  1. 1.Cedarville UniversityCedarvilleUSA

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