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Vedergällningstanken: Två idéhistoriska studier
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Literature and History of Ideas.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Retribution : Two studies in the history of ideas (English)
Abstract [en]

The thesis is about retribution, often exemplified by Jus talionis, the rule in Exodus 21:23-25. Retribution was the undisputed guiding principle of punishment until the 18th century when it was challenged, first and foremost by Cesare Beccaria and Voltaire. Today divine retribution plays a vital role in the Jewish and Christian faiths and [non-divine] retribution still has a position in punishment philosophy, although most philosophers have replaced it with utilitarian theories.

The thesis comprises two quite different studies on retribution. The first one deals with the concept of retribution in Swedish philosophical writing during the former part of the 19th century and the heated discussions about a new Swedish penal law in the 1860s. The two leading 19th century Swedish philosophers were C. J. Boström and his predecessor Samuel Grubbe. The latter advocated retribution and was an adherent of the death penalty. Boström, on the other hand, accepted only his own punishment theory, which he regarded as a theory of protection of the state. However, in the debate about the new penal law divine retribution and Boström’s philosophy were referred to by the proponents of capital punishment.

The second study is about a unique moral theory put forward by the Finnish philosopher and anthropologist Edward Westermarck. In a work on the origin and development of the moral ideas he applied a two-pronged approach. He attempted to prove that all morals originate from retributive emotions and he also delineated man’s moral history from early society to modern times. Westermarck demonstrated his theses with the support of religious and legal sources spanning from ancient times to his own lifetime together with all sorts of anthropologically relevant information on primitive societies existing in the 19th century. Today Westermarck’s moral theory is dead but many of the questions about moral and customs that he raised are still philosophically and politically relevant.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Daidalos, 2012. , 476 p.
Keyword [en]
Adam Smith, anthropology, Boström, civilization, death penalty, development, Durkheim, emotions, justice, moral philosophy, Olivecrona, psychology, Rawls, reason, retribution, subjectivism, Westermarck
Keyword [sv]
Adam Smith, antropologi, Boström, civilisation, Durkheim, dödsstraff, förnuft, känslor, moralfilosofi, Olivecrona, psykologi, Rawls, rättvisa, subjektivism, utveckling, vedergällning, Westermarck
National Category
Research subject
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-78699ISBN: 978-91-7173-384-9OAI: diva2:546222
Public defence
2012-10-06, Auditorium 215, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-09-14 Created: 2012-08-06 Last updated: 2012-08-30Bibliographically approved

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Hultberg, Ralf
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