Cover: The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility, from Harvard University PressCover: The Limits of Blame in HARDCOVER

The Limits of Blame

Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674980778

Publication Date: 11/12/2018

Text

240 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 photo

World

Faith in the power and righteousness of retribution has taken over the American criminal justice system. Approaching punishment and responsibility from a philosophical perspective, Erin Kelly challenges the moralism behind harsh treatment of criminal offenders and calls into question our society’s commitment to mass incarceration.

The Limits of Blame takes issue with a criminal justice system that aligns legal criteria of guilt with moral criteria of blameworthiness. Many incarcerated people do not meet the criteria of blameworthiness, even when they are guilty of crimes. Kelly underscores the problems of exaggerating what criminal guilt indicates, particularly when it is tied to the illusion that we know how long and in what ways criminals should suffer. Our practice of assigning blame has gone beyond a pragmatic need for protection and a moral need to repudiate harmful acts publicly. It represents a desire for retribution that normalizes excessive punishment.

Appreciating the limits of moral blame critically undermines a commonplace rationale for long and brutal punishment practices. Kelly proposes that we abandon our culture of blame and aim at reducing serious crime rather than imposing retribution. Were we to refocus our perspective to fit the relevant moral circumstances and legal criteria, we could endorse a humane, appropriately limited, and more productive approach to criminal justice.

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Privileged Poor

As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.