Criminal law, crime and punishment as communication

  • Expressivist theories of punishment, according to which a penal sanction articulates or expresses a certain meaning to the offender, to the victim and to society, become more and more prominent among the traditional theories of punishment as retribution or deterrence. What these theories have in common is the idea that the conveyance of the meaning is in need of a communicative action, and that the penal sanction is such a communicative act. This article argues that pure communicative theories of punishment face great difficulties in generating any justification for hard treatment. One challenge is that certain types of sanctions – in particularly, hard treatment – restrict the communicative opportunities of the incarcerated individual; which generates a paradox, in that it turns punishment into a communicative action of non-communication. Beyond that, moreover, all practices of hard treatment potentially become unnecessary, if expressing the moral message of censure constitutes a kind of action in itself, and as such, itself a treatment of the offender, embedded in a communicative relationship between offender, victim and society; such that we may be able to think of the history of punishment as a development where hard treatment becomes more and more unnecessary for the conveyance of the message.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar
Author:Klaus GüntherGND
Parent Title (German):Normative orders working paper : Normative Orders, Cluster of Excellence at Goethe University Frankfurt, Main ; 2014, 02
Series (Serial Number):Normative orders working paper : Normative Orders, Cluster of Excellence at Goethe University Frankfurt, Main (2014, 02)
Publisher:Univ. Frankfurt, Fachbereich Rechtswiss.
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Working Paper
Date of Publication (online):2014/07/23
Date of first Publication:2014/07/23
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/07/23
GND Keyword:Criminal Law; Crime; Punishment; Communication
Page Number:22
First Page:1
Last Page:22
Institutes:Rechtswissenschaft / Rechtswissenschaft
Exzellenzcluster / Exzellenzcluster Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 34 Recht / 340 Recht
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht