In textbooks on punishment one usually finds four major "theories" or "justifications" of punishment: (1) the retributive, (2) the deterrence, (3) the reform or rehabilitation, and ( 4) the incapacitation or social defense, theories.1 They are usually offered as rival theories of the proper (primary) purpose or function of punishment.2 And it is generally assumed that the general practice of punishing people and individual acts of punishment are morally justified if and only if, and to the extent that, they serve that purpose or perform that function.
"The Strengths and Limits of the Theory of Retributive Punishment,"
Philosophic Exchange: Vol. 8
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/phil_ex/vol8/iss1/3