How Social Psychological Research Can Inform Punishment Theory

Gastvortrag am 05.06.2024, 17:00 Uhr

27. Mai 2024

Gastvortrag von Prof. Dr. Mario Gollwitzer (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), 05.06.2024, 17–19 Uhr, Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung von Kri­mi­na­lität, Sicherheit und Recht, Freiburg, Fürstenbergstr. 19 | Gäste sind herzlich willkommen, Anmeldung erbeten.

Ordering and executing the infliction of harm – as specified in the criminal law – requires both a formal as well as a substantive legitimization. Such a legitimization is typically derived from so-called punishment (or “penal”) theories (such as “absolute punishment” theories à la Kant or Hegel or “relative punishment” theories that weigh the deterrent effects of punishment against the harm it produces). These theories are inherently normative (in the sense that they work with ethical arguments), but many of these theories also make (explicit or implicit) assumptions about “human nature” (i.e., about people’s subjective punitive instincts, retributive desires, affective responses, attitudes, values, etc.). Whether or not these assumptions are tenable is not a question of plausibility or pure logic, but rather a question of whether empirical findings speak for or against them. Social psychology – and, social justice research in particular – aims to provide such empirical findings, and I will show how such findings can be used to inform punishment theory. To do so, a first necessary step is to thoroughly investigate punishment theories with regard to the explicit and implicit assumptions they make about human nature, and then, in a second step, scrutinize these assumptions against empirical findings. This is exactly what Mario Gollwitzer and Ralf Kölbel (Chair of Criminal Law and Criminology, LMU) are currently trying to do in a research project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Mario Gollwitzer will present preliminary findings from this project and, finally, reflect on the usefulness and the feasibility of their approach.

Mario Gollwitzer holds a chair in social psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany. He received his doc­toral degree from the University of Trier in 2004 with a dissertation on revenge. Before he started his position in Munich, he was a jun­ior professor of methodology and evaluation research at the University of Koblenz-Landau, and a full professor of methodology and social psychology at Philipps-University Marburg. His research focuses on (a) social psychological research on retributive justice, (b) in­di­vidual differences in “justice sensitivity” and their relation to moral reasoning and moral behavior, (c) public understanding of and engagement with (social) scientific research programs and findings, and (d) meta-science and the replicability debate in psychology.

Zur Redakteursansicht