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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Thom Brooks

Brooks, Thom (2011). Is Bradley a Retributivist? History of Political Thought 32(1): 83-95.

Author(s) from Durham


Perhaps the least controversial area of F.H. Bradley's writings relates to his views on punishment. Commentators universally recognize Bradley's theory of punishment as a retributivist theory of punishment.
This article challenges the received wisdom. I argue that Bradley does not endorse retributivism as commonly understood. Instead, he defends the view that punishment is non-retributivist and serves the end of societal maintenance. Moreover, Bradley defends this view consistently from Ethical Studies to later work on punishment. Instead of holding a theory of punishment largely unique amongst British Idealists of his time, Bradley's views on punishment are far more consistent than previously thought.