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Lycoming College guest speaker to discuss alternative to criminal retributivism

Lycoming College guest speaker to discuss alternative to criminal retributivism

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Lycoming College welcomes Gregg D. Caruso, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at SUNY Corning, visiting fellow at the New College of the Humanities (NCH London), and honorary professor of philosophy at Macquarie University. Caruso’s presentation, “Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice,” will take place Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in room D-001 of the Academic Center. The event is sponsored by the department of philosophy and the department of criminal justice and criminology. The event is free and open to the public.

“One of the most prominent justifications of legal punishment, historically and currently, is retributivism, according to which wrongdoers deserve the imposition of a penalty solely for the backward-looking reason that they have knowingly done wrong,” said Caruso. “While it provides one of the main sources of justification for punishment within the criminal justice system, there are good philosophical and practical reasons for rejecting it.”

In his talk, Caruso will outline six distinct reasons that our criminal justice system should reject retributivism, and instead adopt a public health-quarantine model that prioritizes prevention and social justice — a model that is arguably more ethically defensible as well as practical. Rather than focusing on punishment of the individual, the model focuses on rehabilitation and the individual’s well being.

Caruso has published many articles and multiple books, including the recent, “Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice” (Cambridge University Press, 2021), and “Just Deserts: Debating Free Will” with co-author Daniel C. Dennett (Polity, 2021). His research encompasses topics such as free will, moral responsibility, punishment, philosophy of law, jurisprudence, social and political philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of the mind, moral psychology, and neurolaw.

Caruso is also the co-director of the “Justice Without Retribution Network” at the University of Aberdeen, where scholars and early career researchers explore alternative approaches to addressing criminal behavior. The network’s latest research and projects can be found at Caruso’s own website is

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