Utilitarianism And Retributive Justice

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Utilitarianism was long thought to violate the Principle of Retributive Justice, the concept of being punished for crimes committed. Under closer examination, it is revealed that Utilitarianism and Retributive Justice do not clash. According to Mill, the concept of justice is actually derived from utility. When an individual's moral rights are violated, it is a natural tendency to want to retaliate against the violator. The retaliation ensures that such an act would not happen again. By protecting individuals from the violation of rights, punishment contributes to an overall increase of utility in society. In Utilitarianism, Mill writes that "a person may possibly not need the benefits of others, but he always needs that they should not do him hurt" (Mill 89). This protection allows individuals to follow their own pursuits more effectively, without fear, and ultimately with more utility. At the same time, Mill also argues that certain cases exist where an individual has a moral duty to do an action that would be considered unjust under normal circumstances; however, due to the action drastically increasing utility, the action is allowed to be done and does not violate the Principle of Retributive Justice. An act that would be considered "wrong" in a normal situation can be "right" in other situations. One such example is the case of Robin Hood. Robin Hood is a fictional character who steals material goods and money from very rich individuals and redistributes those items to the very poor. He is not punished for his crimes, and is hailed as a hero for his deeds. While the case of Robin Hood might seem to violate the Principle of Retributive Justice because he receives no retribution for his actions, under closer consideration, this...

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...itarianism applies to acts that are determined to be morally right based on an individual's internal motivations rather than based on the actual act itself as the opponents previously argued. Acts that are morally right are do not violate the Principle of Retributive Justice and therefore, do not deserve punishment. For instance, Robin Hood is not motivated by greed or corruption but is instead motivated by compassion. Wishing a more equal distribution of wealth, Robin Hood helps the most vulnerable people in society. He does not keep the wealth himself, but rather, gives it away. It is his internal goodness and unselfishness that prevents him from violating the Principle of Retributive Justice. He does not deserve punishment, as his motivations were not immoral. Utilitarianism inspires Robin Hood as he strives to create a better world and a more prosperous society.
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