My Thoughts

C. S. Lewis, most familiar perhaps to the newer vintage for the Chronicles of Narnia, wrote often on theology and ethics. In 1949 he published an essay in 20th Century: An Australian Philosophy Quarterly, entitled “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” in which he argued for what he called a more “traditional” retributive theory over one that is solely directed to the rehabilitation of criminals and/or the deterrence of potential criminals. As Lewis argued, whereas many have dismissed the concept of retribution as nothing more than a veil for vengeance and barbarism, it turns out upon analysis that it is the removal of retribution from our notion of criminal justice that truly has a dehumanizing effect.

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