Compulsory Victim Restitution Is Punishment: A Reply to Boonin

Cholbi, Michael
June 2010
Public Reason;2010, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p85
Academic Journal
David Boonin has recently argued that although no existing theory of legal punishment provides adequate moral justification for the practice of punishing criminal wrongdoing, compulsory victim restitution (CVR) is a morally justified response to such wrongdoing. Here I argue that Boonin's thesis is false because CVR is a form of punishment. I first support this claim with an argument that Boonin's denial that CVR is a form of punishment requires a groundless distinction between a state's response to a criminal offense and its response to an offender's failure to comply with the sanctions imposed for that offense. I then suggest that this argument points to a definition of punishment that not only meets Boonin's own desiderata for a definition of punishment but also implies that CVR is a form of punishment. Finally, I argue that CVR is a form of punishment even under Boonin's own proposed definition of punishment.


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