The Philosophical Foundations of Just Punishment and its Peculiarities

Document Type : Scientific-research


1 PhD student in Criminal Law and Criminology, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Faculty of Law, Shahid Beheshti University.Tehran Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Faculty of Law, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran (corresponding author)


“Punishment” is a social institution and one of the main subjects in the realm of penal policy. Considering the institutional nature of punishment and the necessity of the institutions’ being just, the just social institutions are those institutions which impose their constitutive rules equally on the subjects. But giving opportunities to the underprivileged subjects can lead to the realization of a balanced order. So, the just social institutions can be described as having two criteria: equality and adjustment, which make the main bases of describing the just social institutions. Discrimination in punishment causes the harassment and the unjust restrictions to citizens and shakes the pillars of the legitimacy of the penal justice system. Therefore, avoiding the discriminative punishment has become one of the most important social concerns in the realm of penal policy and social assent, which can provide the strongest justification in the philosophy of punishment. Using a descriptive-analytical method, this paper intends to explain the philosophical roots of the justification of punishment and to draw some peculiarities of just punishment system. One of the findings of this paper is that if a just penal process is based on equality and adjustment, it can lead to the restoration of the social order impaired by delinquency. This process is guaranteed by principles such as the negation of indeterminism, the necessity of the rule of law, and the principle of the penal necessity. Considering the dependence of these peculiarities on the theory of social justice, which gives legitimacy to punishment, we will examine the philosophical foundations of just punishment.


The Holy Qur'an
ʿAmili, Ziyn al-Din ibn Ali. (1992). Masalak al-Afham, Vol. 4. Qom: Islamic Publishing Forum.
Araki, Muhsin. (2004). The Theory of the Governance in Islam. Qom: Islamic Thought Forum.
ʿAwdih, Abd al-Qadir. (2013). Al-Tashriʿ al-Jinaʾiyya al-Islami. Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al-Arabi.
Behensi, Ahmid Fathi. (1983). Islamic Criminal Jurisprudence. Cairo: Dar Al-Aruba.
Benton, Lauren. (2021). "Empires and the Rule of Law: Arbitrary Justice and Imperial Legal Ordering", in: The Rule of Law. Edited by Jens Meierhenrich & Martin Loughlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Black, Henry Campbell. (1983). Black's Law Dictionary. St. Paul: West Publishing Co.
Burger, Ronna. (2008). Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates: On the "Nicomachean Ethics". Chicago: The University of Chicago Press Books.
Danesh Pazhouh, Mustafa. (2021). Introduction to Islamic Law. Qom: Research Institute of Hawza and University. (In Persian)
Elham, Gholam Hossein, & Muhsin Borhani. (2018). Introduction to General Part of Criminal Law: Reaction against Crime, Vol. 2. Tehran: Mizan. (In Persian)
Hudson, Barbara. (2000). “Punishing the Poor: Dilemmas of Justice and Difference”. In From Social Justice to Criminal justice. Edited by William C. Heffernan & John Kleinig. New York: Oxford University Press.
Jafari, Muhammad Taqi. (1999). Jurisprudential Issues. Tehran: Keramat Pub. (In Persian)
Kant, Immanuel. (2019). Philosophy of Law. Translated by Manouchehr Sane'i. Tehran: Naghsh & Negar Pub. (In Persian)
Katouzian, Nasser. (1999). Philosophy and Theory of Law (3). Tehran: Intishar Corporation. (In Persian)
Kelsen, Hans. (2009). General Theory of Law and State. Translated by Anders Wedberg. London: Lawbook Exchange Ltd.
Konow, James. (December 2003). "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories". Journal of Economic Literature, XLI (4): 1188–1239.
Mohaghegh Damad, Mustafa. (2009). The Rules of Islamic Jurisprudence: Penal Section. Tehran: Islamic Science Publishing Center. (In Persian)
Mohammadi, Qasim. (2016). Criminalization Rule. Tehran: Shahr Danesh. (In Persian)
Moradi, Mahdi. (2020). Modern Islamic State. Tehran: Tarh Now. (In Persian)
Munro, Vanessa E. (2021). "Feminist Critiques of the Rule of Law". In The Rule of Law. Edited by Jens Meierhenrich & Martin Loughlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nozick, Robert. (2007). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. London: Basic Books.
Pradel, Jean. (2000). Droit Pénal Général. Paris: Cujas.
Pratt, John. (2002). Punishment and Civilization: Penal Tolerance and Intolerance in Modern Society. New Delhi: SAGE Publication.
Rawls, John. (2001). A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sadr, Muhammad Baqir. (2002). Durus fi ʿIlm al-Usul. Qom: Islamic Thought Forum.
Sadr, Muhammad. (1999). Mawaraʾ al-Fiqh. Beirut: Dar al-Adwa.
Safi Gulpaygani, Lutfullah. (1983). Al-Taʿzir, Ahkamuhu wa Hududih. Qom: Islamic Publishing Forum.
Sandel, Michael. (2021). Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Translated by Hassan Afshar. Tehran: Markaz Pub. (In Persian)
Scott, David. (2008). Penology. London: Sage Publications.
Sen, Amartya. (1995). Inequality Reexamined. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Shobbar, Abdullah. (1983). The Original Principles and Legal Rules. Qom: Al-Mufid School.
Stéfani, Gaston, Georges Levasseur, & Bernard Bouloc. (2003). Droit Pénal Général. Paris: Dalloz.
Subhani, Jafar. (1994). Al-Rasaʾil al-Arbaʿ. Qom: Foundation of Imam Al-Sadiq.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). (10 December 1948).
Vaezi, Ahmad. (2005). John Rawls: From the Theory of Justice to Political Liberalism. Qom: Bostan Ketab. (In Persian)
Wacks, Raymond. Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction. Translated by Baqir Ansari & Muslim Aghaee Togh. Tehran: Jungle Pub. (In Persian)
Walker, Samuel, Cassia Spohn, & Miriam DeLone. (2000). The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America. Ontario: Wadsworth.