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The Harms Beyond Imprisonment: Do We Have Special Moral Obligations Towards Families and Children of Prisoners?
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
2014 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, Vol. 17, no 4, 775-789 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses whether the collateral harm of imprisonment to the close family members and children of prison inmates may give rise to special moral obligations towards them. Several collateral harms, including decreased psychological wellbeing, financial costs, loss of economic opportunities, and intrusion and control over their private lives, are identified. Two competing perspectives in moral philosophy are then applied in order to assess whether the harms are permissible. The first is consequentialist and the second is deontological. It is argued that both of them fails and therefore it is hard to defend the position that allowing for these harms would be morally permissible, even for the sake of the overall aims of incarceration. Instead, it is argued that these harms imply that imprisonment should only be used as a last resort. Where it is necessary, it should give rise to special moral obligations. Using the notion of residual obligation, these obligations are defended, categorized and clarified.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 17, no 4, 775-789 p.
Keyword [en]
Collateral harm, Consequentialism, Doctrine of double effect, Imprisonment, Philosophy of punishment, Residual obligations
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-136253DOI: 10.1007/s10677-013-9483-7ISI: 000339804500015Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84904683275OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-136253DiVA: diva2:675637
Note

QC 20140903

Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ethics of Imprisonment: Essays in Criminal Justice Ethics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethics of Imprisonment: Essays in Criminal Justice Ethics
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This licentiate thesis consists of three essays which all concern the ethics of imprisonment and what constitutes an ethically defensible treatment of criminal offenders.

Paper 1 defends the claim that prisoners have a right to privacy. I argue that the right to privacy is important because of its connection to moral agency. For that reasons is the protection of inmates’ right to privacy also warranted by different established philosophical theories about the justification of legal punishment. I discuss the practical implications of this argument. Ultimately I argue the invasion of privacy should be minimized to the greatest extent possible without compromising other important values and rights to safety and security. In defending this position, I argue that respect for inmates’ privacy should be part of the objective of creating and upholding a secure environment to better effect in the long run.

Paper 2 discusses whether the collateral harm of imprisonment to the close family members and children of prison inmates may give rise to special moral obligations towards them. Several collateral harms, including decreased psychological wellbeing, financial costs, loss of economic opportunities, and intrusion and control over their private lives, are identified. Two competing perspectives in moral philosophy are applied in order to assess whether the harms are permissible. The first is consequentialist and the second is deontological, and it is argued that both of them fails and therefore it is hard to defend the position that allowing for these harms would be morally permissible, even for the sake of the overall aims of incarceration. Instead, it is argued that these harms imply that imprisonment should only be used as a last resort. Where it is necessary, imprisonment should give rise to special moral obligations towards families of prisoners. Using the notion of residual obligation, these obligations are defended, categorized and clarified.

Paper 3 evaluates electronic monitoring (EM) from an ethical perspective and discusses whether it could be a promising alternative to imprisonment as a criminal sanction for a series of criminal offenses. EM evaluated from an ethical perspective as six initial ethical challenges are addressed and discussed. It is argued that since EM is developing as a technology and a punitive means, it is urgent to discuss its ethical implications and incorporate moral values into its design and development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. 31 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 47
Keyword
Collateral Harms, Communicative Theory of Punishment, Consequentialism, Criminal Justice Ethics, Doctrine of Double Effect, Electronic Monitoring, Imprisonment, Legal Punishment, Moral Education Theory of Punishment, Privacy, Philosophy of Punishment, Retributivism
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-145357 (URN)978-91-7595-076-1 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-05-27, Rum 1515, Teknikringen 74D, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20140519

Available from: 2014-05-19 Created: 2014-05-19 Last updated: 2014-05-19Bibliographically approved
2. Unfit to live among others: Essays on the ethics of imprisonment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Unfit to live among others: Essays on the ethics of imprisonment
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis provides an ethical analysis of imprisonment as a mode of punishment. Consisting in an introduction and four papers the thesis addresses several important questions concerning imprisonment from a number of different perspectives and theoretical starting points. One overall conclusion of this thesis is that imprisonment, as a mode of punishment, deserves more attention from moral and legal philosophers. It is also concluded that a more complete ethical assessment of prison conditions and prison management requires a broader focus. It must include an explicit discussion of both how imprisonment directly affects prison inmates and its negative side-effects on third parties. Another conclusion is that ethical discussions on prison conditions should not be too easily reduced to a question about how harsh or lenient is should be.

Paper 1 argues that prisoners have a right to privacy. It is argued that respect for inmates’ privacy is related to respect for them as moral agents. Consequently, respect for inmates’ privacy is called for by different established philosophical theories about the justification of legal punishment. Practical implications of this argument are discussed and it is argued that invasion of privacy should be minimized to the greatest extent possible, without compromising other important values or the rights to safety and security. It is also proposed that respect for privacy should be part of the objective of creating and upholding a secure environment.

Paper 2 discusses whether the collateral harm of imprisonment to the children and other close family members of prison inmates may give rise to special moral obligations towards them. Several collateral harms, including decreased psychological wellbeing, financial costs, loss of economic opportunities, and intrusion and control over their private lives, are identified. Two perspectives in moral philosophy, consequentialism and deontology, are then applied in order to assess whether these harms are permissible. It is argued that from either perspective it is hard to defend the claim that allowing for these harms are morally permissible. Consequently, imprisonment should be used only as a last resort. Where it is deemed necessary, it gives rise to special moral obligations. Using the notion of residual obligation, these obligations are then categorized and clarified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper 3 focuses on an argument that has figured in the philosophical debate on felon disenfranchisement. This argument states that as a matter of democratic self-determination, a legitimate democratic collective has the collective right to decide whether to disenfranchise felons as a way of defining their political identity. Yet, such a collective’s right to self-determination is limited, since the choice to disenfranchise anyone must be connected to normative considerations of political significance. This paper defends this argument against three charges that has been raised to it. In doing so it also explores under what circumstances felon disenfranchisement can be permissible.

Paper 4 explores the question of whether prison inmates suffering from ADHD should be administered psychopharmacological intervention (methylphenidate) for their condition. The theoretical starting point for the discussion is the communicative theory of punishment, which understands criminal punishment   as a form of secular penance. Viewed through the lens of the communicative theory it is argued that the provision of pharmacological treatment to offenders with ADHD need not necessarily be conceived of as an alternative to punishment, but as an aid to achieving the penological ends of secular penance. Thus, in this view offenders diagnosed with ADHD should have the option to undergo pharmacological treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2017. 66 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 56
Keyword
Applied Ethics, Collateral Harm, Communicative Theory of Punishment, Democratic Self- determination, Doctrine of Double Effect, Felon Disenfranchisement, Imprisonment, Legal Punishment, Practical Philosophy, Philosophy of Punishment, Privacy
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199567 (URN)978-91-7729-222-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-02-03, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20170110

Available from: 2017-01-10 Created: 2017-01-09 Last updated: 2017-01-31Bibliographically approved

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