Honors College Theses

Date

2022

Major

Philosophy (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Paul Tubig

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the contemporary criminal justice system in the United States, offering moral and pragmatic critiques to its current construction, and proposing an alternative construction that is both more successful pragmatically and morally. In this paper, I first establish the connection between morality and the law through the consideration of jurisprudential theories of law. After arguing for this connection, I then offer critiques of the current criminal justice system in the United States. After this, I evaluate the four general theories of punishment using the scholarship of Thom Brooks, finding that retributive and deterrent forms of justice fail pragmatically and morally while rehabilitative and restorative forms of justice succeed. I then introduce my ethical theory, describing the moral framework it offers through concepts of moral essence and context in relation to moral character and moral action. Finally, I apply this ethical framework by connecting the ideas of moral essence and context to rehabilitative and restorative forms of justice, arguing for the abolition of prisons in favor of rehabilitation centers and community contracts as a way to reconstruct the moral foundations of the contemporary criminal justice system in the United States.

Thesis Summary

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the contemporary criminal justice system in the United States, offering moral and pragmatic critiques to its current construction, and proposing an alternative construction that is both more successful pragmatically and morally. In this paper, I first establish the connection between morality and the law through the consideration of jurisprudential theories of law. After arguing for this connection, I then offer critiques of the current criminal justice system in the United States. After this, I evaluate the four general theories of punishment using the scholarship of Thom Brooks, finding that retributive and deterrent forms of justice fail pragmatically and morally while rehabilitative and restorative forms of justice succeed. I then introduce my ethical theory, describing the moral framework it offers through concepts of moral essence and context in relation to moral character and moral action. Finally, I apply this ethical framework by connecting the ideas of moral essence and context to rehabilitative and restorative forms of justice, arguing for the abolition of prisons in favor of rehabilitation centers and community contracts as a way to reconstruct the moral foundations of the contemporary criminal justice system in the United States.

Share

COinS