Reasonable Punishment?
The Influence of German Idealism on the Theory of Punishment


  • Start: Oct 26, 2023
  • End: Oct 28, 2023
  • Location: Freiburg/Germany, Fürstenbergstr. 19
  • Room: Seminar room (F 113)
  • Host: Max Planck Research Group “Criminal Law Theory” in cooperation with the Chair of Criminal Law and Legal Philosophy at the University of Hamburg and the Chair of Philosophy II at the University of Mannheim
  • Contact:
 Reasonable Punishment? – The Influence of German Idealism on the Theory of Punishment

Despite the passage of two centuries, both historians of philosophy and legal scholars continue to grapple with the justifications of crim­i­nal law and state punishment put forth by Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. These historical perspectives continue to be of significance as they are often said to unveil core elements concerning the justification of punishment that hold true to this day. However, a fundamental ques­tion arises: to what extent are the “paradigmatic attributions” (e.g., Kant and Hegel as rep­re­sentatives of an absolute, Fichte of a relative theory of punishment) justified? Furthermore, the critical potential of these authors for con­tem­po­rary theories of punishment is disputed. While some scholars directly link their work to Kant, Fichte, or Hegel, striving to assert their continued influence on present-day discourse, others reject a direct invocation of these theorists, pointing to insur­mount­a­ble, metaphysically demanding presupposi­tions. This workshop, conducted in German, aims to confront these lingering unresolved concerns by bringing together philosophers and legal scholars working on fundamental questions. The goal is to reexamine the ongoing debate that has persisted in Ger­many since the late 18th century—namely, whether the justification for punishment should rest on retributive or pre­ven­ta­tive grounds. Through this evaluation, the workshop will critically explore the potential that these historical authors can have upon contemporary theory of pun­ish­ment.


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