JEREMY BENTHAM’S CONCEPT OF PUNISHMENT: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

Author: Agbanero Isidore
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Punishment is the imposition of pain on someone for crime or misconduct. Its administration has become highly controversial in the contemporary society. Some scholars of political philosophy argue against punishment saying that it is unpleasant, often painful and restricts the autonomy of individuals. However, scholars with divergent views maintain that the administration of punishment helps to control individuals’ actions, restore order and ensure peaceful human co-existence in the society. Jeremy Bentham is one of the scholars who believe that punishment has a positive impact on the society. He argues that the proper aim of punishment is to prevent greater harm, promote happiness and prevent pain. The role of law makers and government according to Bentham is the argumentation of individuals’ happiness through the punishment of wrongs and reward for benevolence. Nevertheless, in this contemporary time, punishment has not reduced the rate of crime among some countries that adopt Bentham’s principle of punishment owing to wrong application. Hence crime increases by the day. Using the method of analysis, this thesis examines the relevance of Bentham’s concept of punishment on crime control. It also evaluates how this could be used to create a peaceful human co-existence. This work concludes that it is still possible for the act of punishment to prevent greater harm and reduce crime that plagues human society. For punishment to achieve its purpose, this research work suggests that an elaborate and clear sentencing guideline should be provided for judges to reference when determining the guilt of the accused and suitable punishment for the crime committed. It is also believed that crime and corruption will reduce in the society if all criminal offences and corrupt practices are punished regardless of who committed it.

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