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Punishment's Burdens on the Innocent

Hoskins, Zachary



Critics of state punishment have frequently pointed out that its imposition sometimes involves the infliction of burdens on innocent people: namely, those falsely convicted of crimes and punished. Punishment also creates significant burdens for innocent children and other dependents of those punished (social stigma, financial stress, direct abuse, and so on). But these burdens on innocents have received much less philosophical attention than the burdens created for the falsely convicted. This paper examines five lines of argument that might lead one to the conclusion that the burdens punishment creates for the falsely convicted are more morally troubling than the burdens it creates for innocent dependents of those punished. I offer reasons to be sceptical about each of these arguments. I contend that we should regard the burdens state punishment creates for innocent dependents of those punished as no less morally troubling than the burdens it creates for innocent, falsely convicted people. In the paper’s final section, I discuss some implications of my account.


Hoskins, Z. (2022). Punishment's Burdens on the Innocent. Journal of Applied Philosophy,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 26, 2022
Publication Date Dec 26, 2022
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2023
Journal Journal of Applied Philosophy
Print ISSN 0264-3758
Electronic ISSN 1468-5930
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Philosophy
Public URL
Publisher URL


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