Retributarianism: A New Individualization of Punishment

Hadar Dancig-Rosenberg*, Netanel Dagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article seeks to reveal, conceptualize, and analyze a trend in the development of the retributive theory of punishment since the beginning of the 21st century. We term this trend “retributarianism.” It is reflected in the emergence of retributive approaches that through expanding the concepts of censure and culpability extend the relevant time-frame for assessing the deserved punishment beyond the sentencing moment. These retributarian approaches are characterized by the individualization of retributivism. On one hand, retributarianism shares with classic retributivism the rhetoric of justice, a focus on the moral evaluation of the severity of the offense, and the primary importance ascribed to maintaining proportionality. On the other hand, it shares with utilitarianism the possibility of taking into account, in addition to the severity of the offense, the offender’s personal circumstances, with a future-oriented perspective that also considers developments subsequent to the commission of the offense. This article analyzes the emergence of retributarianism, suggests possible explanations for its development, and assesses its possible implications for penal theory and policy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalCriminal Law and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.


  • Just desert
  • Penal theory
  • Philosophy of punishment
  • Punishment theories
  • Retributarianism
  • Retribution
  • Utilitarianism


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