The Rationale of Punishment

Book II

Of Corporal Punishments

Chapter XII


In making this examination, the following plan will be pursued. The advantageous properties of capital punishment will in the first place be considered: we shall afterwards proceed to examine its disadvantageous properties.

We shall, in the last place, consider the collateral ill effects resulting from this mode of punishment: effects more remote and less obvious, but sometimes more important, than those which are more immediate and striking.

The task thus undertaken would be an extremely ungrateful and barren one, were it not that the course of the examination will lead us to make a comparison between this and other modes of punishment, and thus to ascertain which is entitled to the preference. On the subject of punishment, the same rule ought in this respect to be observed as on the subject of taxes. To complain of any particular tax as being an injudicious one, is to sow the seeds of discontent, and nothing more: to be really useful, this in itself mischievous discovery, should be accompanied by the indication of another tax which will prove equally productive, with less inconvenience.

[RP, Book II, Chapter XI §2] [RP, Book II, Chapter XII, §1]