Excellent new book that I just recently purchased that gives a justification for retributive justice. Justice and love protect. Punishment is essentially a defense of the honor of the victim. The book is over a hundred dollars but well worth the price. Here’s the description on the back
This book addresses the problem of justifying the institution of criminal punishment. It examines the “paradox of retribution”: the fact that we cannot seem to reject the intuition that punishment is morally required, and yet we cannot (even after two thousand years of philosophical debate) find a morally legitimate basis for inflicting harm on wrongdoers. The book comes at a time when a new “abolitionist” movement has arisen, a movement that argues that we should give up the search for justification and accept that punishment is morally unjustifiable and should be discontinued immediately. This book, however, proposes a new approach to the retributive theory of punishment, arguing that it should be understood in its traditional formulation that has been long forgotten or dismissed: that punishment is essentially a defense of the honor of the victim. Properly understood, this can give us the possibility of a legitimate moral justification for the institution of punishment.
A couple of quotes:
We have argued that the central purpose of punishment is to restore dignity, self-respect, and honor to the victim, by demonstrating that society does not passively acquiesce in the crime but is willing to risk even life and limb in response to it on behalf of the victim. The goal of defending the honor of the victims seems to be morally unobjectionable even to critics of punishment, and it seems to be more reasonable to expect that retributive motive will always be with us - or as Sharon Krause argues, that we need to preserve the motivation to defend one’s honor, a motive on which our liberties depend. Indeed, we have argued that virtually every current theory of punishment has an underlying retributive motive. ~~ page 190
The case for the essential continuity and even identity of revenge and retributive punishment is overwhelming, The two words are dictionary synonyms and are more or less interchangeable; if the revenger demands “retribution” we would not have any doubt about what he meant (nor would we ever think that he was referring to an entirely different conceptual system of punishment). As Zaibert points out, when in the Bible God says “Vengeance is Mine,” it is clear that He means retributive punishment, not sadistic pleasure. Both the revenger and the punisher aim at “justice” ~~ page 106
As we can see there’s nothing immoral or psychologically abusive about Christianity because it teaches retributive justice. To quote Robin Parry, It’s both retributive and restorative:
In scripture, divine judgment serves various ends. It has, as the tradition rightly points out, a retributive aspect. Someone is punished because they deserve to be. It is not hard to find this instinct in Scripture. But we err if we think that retribution exhausts what Biblical justice and punishment are about. Biblical justice is about putting wrong things right. As such, while retribution may possibly be a necessary condition of justice, it cannot be a sufficient condition, because retribution cannot undo the harms done and put right the wrongs. The primary end of God’s justice, with respect to creation, is not punishment, but salvation. And punishment itself is not merely suffering inflicted as a deserved consequence for wrong deeds. Punishment also functions as a deterrent…Furthermore it is also a corrective for those being punished…And these different purposes of punishment need not be mutually exclusive. God’s punishment of Israel say, can be SIMULTAEOUSLY RETRIBUTIVE AND RESTORATIVE ~~ Robin Parry in Four Views on Hell pages 113-114