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This article sets forth a general theory of the justification of legal punishment based on virtue ethics and republican political theory. Criminal law serves not only to deter and take retribution, but also to inculcate virtue. This theory explains why, for example, people do not consciously abide by law. They just do, because they have no desire to do things that are contrary to the criminal law. This conception of virtue as well-ordered desire is distinctively Aristotelian. The political justification for inculcating virtue by means of criminal law is the classic republican conception of government as being devoted specifically to the inculcation of virtue.

Publication Date

1995

Volume

108

First Page

1423

Keywords

criminal law, Aristotle, republican

Disciplines

Law

Included in

Law Commons

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