Workshop Convenors: Andrei Poama (Sciences Po) & Ambrose Lee (Oxford)
Moral intuitions seem to hold a paradoxical role in the justification of state punishment. On the one hand, normative theorists repeatedly, if diffusely, rely on intuitions in their attempts to justify state punishment. They do so by insisting on the intuitively compelling nature of certain moral principles, by criticizing particular conceptions of criminal justice for their counterintuitive implications, or by questioning whether intuitions about just punishment need to be shared or not. On the other hand, normative theories of criminal justice resist a full-fledged acceptance of intuition-based arguments about criminal justice. Claims to an explicitly intuitionistic account of punishment are rare. Moreover, moral and political philosophers tend to outrightly overlook the existence of a growing body of empirical findings concerning lay or professional intuitions about the justice of punishment. Thus, intuitions appear to be used, yet undervalued when it comes to justifying the practice of state punishment.
The workshop is designed to take issue with the role of intuitions in the justification of punishment. We aim to investigate this by raising such questions as the following:
(1) What counts as an intuition, and should intuitions have any bearing on the moral justification of state punishment? What is the relation between intuition based arguments about criminal justice and other strategies for justifying punishment, which have a deontological or consequentialist orientation? What sort of justificatory methods might adequately assess the moral import of intuitions in the justification of punishment? What is the relationship between intuitive beliefs and other forms of normative reasoning, such as judgment or deliberation? Would a completely intuitionist account of punishment be normatively arbitrary?
(2) What is a morally relevant intuition in matters of punishment? Whose intuitions should we care about when assessing the justice of penal practice? Should normative theorists check their intuitions about just punishment by investigating what other people – say, lay citizens, judges or jurors – intuitively think about just and unjust forms of punishment?
(3) Should the state be responsive to our intuitions about penal justice and should our criminal justice policies be designed in such a way as to show more sensitivity toward those intuitions? How does being involved in the penal practice affect our intuitions about just punishment? Are intuitions about just punishment context-dependent, and what are the implications of context dependency for the justification of punishment?
(4) Should moral and political philosophy care about intuitions at all? More particularly, what are the philosophically interesting ways in which the metaethical debates surrounding ethical intuitionism could impact on the role of intuitions in theorizing about justice and punishment?
If you are interested in presenting a paper at this workshop, please send a 500-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by June 15, 2014. We welcome contributions from the fields of political theory, legal philosophy, and ethics.