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

$36.00 • £28.95 • €32.50

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.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, by Justin Reich, from Harvard University Press

Publishing (and Promoting) a Book during a Pandemic

This year challenged the way people do many things. For Justin Reich that meant rethinking how to promote his new book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, published in September. With bookstore tours and readings out of the question, Reich came up with an idea to get the word out about his book. On March 24, I submitted the final copyedits for my new book