The Coptown Case: Inviolable Status and Desert

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281, Page: 281-296

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Binder, Guyora
University Press of America
Criminal Law; Punishment Theory; Moral Philosophy; Legal Theory; Frances Kamm; Law; Philosophy
book description
Published in Inherent and Instrumental Values: Excursions in Value Inquiry, G. John M. Abbarno, ed.Francis Kamm has proposed a concept of inviolable status as a reason to value goods like life or deserved punishment that precludes maximizing trade-offs, but without resorting to agent relative constraints. According to this idea, one has an inviolable status in so far as one holds an entitlement that cannot be violated in order minimize violations of that entitlement. By sacrificing one person’s entitlement to protect the entitlements of others, one extinguishes the inviolable status of all. This concept is offered to explain deontological ethics as a practice of respecting the equal dignity of others. By presenting a series of hypothetical problems about the imposition of deserved punishment in the face of uncertainty, this paper denies that the deontologist can avoid trade-offs. In addition, the paper denies that inviolability offers any dignitary advantage over having one’s welfare counted in the utilitarian calculus.