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Unfit to live among others: Essays on the ethics of imprisonment
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
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. , p. 66
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 56
Keyword [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199567ISBN: 978-91-7729-222-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-199567DiVA, id: diva2:1062925
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
List of papers
1. Treating Inmates as Moral Agents: A Defense of the Right to Privacy in Prison
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Treating Inmates as Moral Agents: A Defense of the Right to Privacy in Prison
2014 (English)In: Criminal Justice Ethics, ISSN 0731-129X, E-ISSN 1937-5948, Vol. 33, no 1, p. 21-39Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper my concern is with the collective moral responsibility of criminal investigators for the outcomes of their investigations, bearing in mind that it is important to distinguish collective moral responsibility from, and relate it to, individual moral responsibility. In what sense, if any, are police detectives individually and collectively morally responsible for their success (or, for that matter, their failure) in gathering sufficient evidence to identify, arrest, and charge an offender who has committed a serious crime? Alternatively, in what sense are they morally responsible in cases where they identify, arrest, and charge an innocent person? And in what sense, if any, are police detectives individually and collectively morally responsible for the ultimate outcome of the trial, the finding by the courts of someone they have investigated and charged with a serious crime to be guilty or innocent?

Keyword
Criminal Justice Ethics, Moral agency, Privacy, Prison, Philosophy of Punishment
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-144333 (URN)10.1080/0731129X.2014.906094 (DOI)2-s2.0-84899975334 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20140519

Available from: 2014-04-20 Created: 2014-04-20 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. The Harms Beyond Imprisonment: Do We Have Special Moral Obligations Towards Families and Children of Prisoners?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Harms Beyond Imprisonment: Do We Have Special Moral Obligations Towards Families and Children of Prisoners?
2014 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, Vol. 17, no 4, p. 775-789Article 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.

Keyword
Collateral harm, Consequentialism, Doctrine of double effect, Imprisonment, Philosophy of punishment, Residual obligations
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-136253 (URN)10.1007/s10677-013-9483-7 (DOI)000339804500015 ()2-s2.0-84904683275 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20140903

Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Felon Disenfranchisement and the Argument from Democratic Self-Determination
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Felon Disenfranchisement and the Argument from Democratic Self-Determination
2016 (English)In: Philosophia (Ramat Gan), ISSN 0048-3893, E-ISSN 1574-9274, Vol. 44, no 3, p. 759-774Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses an argument in defense of felon disenfranchisement originally proposed by Andrew Altman, which states that as a matter of democratic self-determination, members of a legitimate democratic community have a collective right to decide whether to disenfranchise felons. Although this argument-which is here referred to as the argument from democratic self-determination-is held to justify policies that are significantly broader in scope than many critics of existing disenfranchisement practices would allow for, it has received little attention from philosophers and political theorists. One exception is Claudio Lpez-Guerra, who recently raised several objections to the argument. In this paper, I argue that the argument from democratic self-determination can avoid Lpez-Guerra's objections. In responding to these, I explicate how and when it can be permissible for a legitimate democratic community to disenfranchise felons. I propose that this is the case only if the disenfranchisement of felons is not intended as a punishment, but as a way to express the view about citizenship one endorses as a democratic collective. I also discuss the implications of the argument in terms of offender reintegration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2016
Keyword
Felon disenfranchisement, Democratic self-determination, Offender reintegration, Civil disqualification
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-194478 (URN)10.1007/s11406-016-9722-y (DOI)000384552500009 ()2-s2.0-84969776529 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20161031

Available from: 2016-10-31 Created: 2016-10-28 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved
4. 'It Will Help You Repent': Why the Communicative Theory of Punishment Requires the Provision of Medications to Offenders with ADHD
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'It Will Help You Repent': Why the Communicative Theory of Punishment Requires the Provision of Medications to Offenders with ADHD
2017 (English)In: Neuro-Interventions and The Law: Regulating Human Mental Capacity / [ed] Nicole Vincent, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199457 (URN)
Note

QC 20170110

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

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