Scientific proof that humans enjoy punishing wrongdoers: The implications for punishment and sentencing

Bagaric, Mirko 2005, Scientific proof that humans enjoy punishing wrongdoers: The implications for punishment and sentencing, International journal of punishment and sentencing, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 98-110.

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Title Scientific proof that humans enjoy punishing wrongdoers: The implications for punishment and sentencing
Author(s) Bagaric, Mirko
Journal name International journal of punishment and sentencing
Volume number 1
Issue number 2
Start page 98
End page 110
Publisher Sandstone Academic Press
Place of publication South Yarra, Vic.
Publication date 2005
ISSN 1449-9045
Keyword(s) sentences (criminal procedure)
criminal jurisdiction
punishment -- philosophy
retribution
utilitarianism
punishment in crime deterrence
capital punishment -- public opinion
sentences (criminal procedure) -- public opinion
reparation (criminal justice)
Summary Recent developments in brain science confirm that as a race we are in fact a punitive lot. Human beings actually derive pleasure from inflicting punishment on wrongdoers. We are wired in such a way that the part of our brain that reports pleasure is activated when we punish norm violators. This is even when punishment has no tangible or demonstrable benefits. However, we are not slaves lo our emotions. Another region of our brain 'kicks-in' if punishment becomes self-defeating, in that it conflicts with our other interests. The implications of this research for punishment theory and the practice of sentencing are discussed in this paper. The findings give qualified support to the theory known as intrinsic retributivism, but do not suggest it is the soundest theory of punishment. This is because we stop punishing when it comes at a cost to us. The good feeling that punishment invokes in punishers is another consequential consideration in favour of the utilitarian theory of punishment. However, it is not clear that the utilitarian calculus is necessarily affected by the findings. The main implication of the research findings relates to the relevance of public opinion to sentencing practice. The findings support the view that public sentiment, which seems to support increasingly tougher sanctions, can be curtailed of the public are informed that punishment comes of a cost to community.
Language eng
Field of Research 180119 Law and Society
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2005, Sandstone Academic Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30003326

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Law
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