The Utility of Desert

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter focuses on the crime-control value of the empirical desert. It argues that a number of specific crime-control powers become available to a system if, and only if, it earns with the community a reputation as a reliable moral authority. How such a reputation can be won and lost is examined. The chapter then considers how a distributive principle might be constructed that would earn such a reputation for moral credibility and some of the problems that might be encountered in the effort.


empirical desert, Distributive Principle, crime control, punishment, moral credibility

Publication Title

Distributive Principles of Criminal Law: Who Should be Punished How Much