Punishment, Consent and Value

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper I take another look at the view, defended by C. Nino, that we may punish criminals because, by knowingly breaking a law, they have consented to becoming liable to the prescribed punishment. I will first rebut the criticisms usually aimed at this view in the literature, aiming to show that they are inconclusive. They are all efforts to show that criminal offenders in fact do not consent to becoming liable to punishment simply by committing crimes. I then turn to a different line of criticism, which I find more promising. I argue that the moral power of effecting normative changes by consenting reflects the power holder’s value as a person, and show how this idea makes sense of how refusal to recognize that power wrongs a person. I then argue that the “power” of consenting to punishability does not fit that model, and is better explained as reflecting the value of other people, whom the offender has wronged. Hence the power of consenting is not involved in typical cases of wrongdoing.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy


  • Consent, Nino, Punishment, Rights
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-914
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number4
Early online date2018 Aug 29
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug
Publication categoryResearch