Some retributive theories hold that punishment should never be imposed to achieve a social objective such as law-abiding behaviour in the future by the offender or by others who witness his example , while others allow social objectives to be pursued as secondary goals. Many but not all retributive theories also claim that punishment should not be inflicted on a person unless he is found guilty of a specific offense thus, they would prohibit collective punishment and the taking of hostages from the general population.
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Although retributive theorists do not base their justification of punishment on its possible deterrent or reformative effects, many of them agree that punishment can perform a salutary educational function. Citizens whose moral values are reinforced by court judgments may feel more strongly committed to them than previously; by contrast, they may question or feel less constrained by values that the courts visibly ignore. Without this kind of reinforcement, some retributivists argue, the legitimacy of the legal system itself may be undermined, leading eventually to general moral decline and the dissolution of society.
A variation of this idea is that punishment is a kind of expiation: offenders should undergo punishment in their own interests to discharge their guilt and to make themselves acceptable to society again. According to utilitarian theories, punishment is justified by its deterrence of criminal behaviour and by its other beneficial consequences for individuals as well as for society. Among several utilitarian theories recognized by criminologists, some stress general deterrence and some individual deterrence.
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Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Theories and objectives of punishment Retribution Utilitarian theories General deterrence Individual deterrence Incapacitation Rehabilitation Theories in conflict Punishment in non-Western societies Punishment in Islamic law Asia Effectiveness of punishment.
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- States prohibiting all corporal punishment of children, including in the home:.
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Punishment also has some notable drawbacks. First, any behavior changes that result from punishment are often temporary. Perhaps the greatest drawback is the fact that punishment does not actually offer any information about more appropriate or desired behaviors. While subjects might be learning to not perform certain actions, they are not really learning anything about what they should be doing.
Another thing to consider about punishment is that it can have unintended and undesirable consequences. For example, while approximately 75 percent of parents in the United States report spanking their children on occasion, researchers have found that this type of physical punishment may lead to antisocial behavior, aggressiveness , and delinquency among children. For this reason, Skinner and other psychologists suggest that any potential short-term gains from using punishment as a behavior modification tool need to be weighed again the potential long-term consequences.
Punishment (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Have you ever wondered what your personality type means? Sign up to get these answers, and more, delivered straight to your inbox. More in Theories. Positive Punishment : This type of punishment is also known as "punishment by application. For example, when a student talks out of turn in the middle of class, the teacher might scold the child for interrupting her.
For example, when the student from the previous example talks out of turn again, the teacher promptly tells the child that he will have to miss recess because of his behavior.
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Article Sources. Gershoff, E. Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behavior and experiences: A meta-analysis and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, , Skinner, B. About Behaviorism.