In my ‘A Deterrence Theory of Punishment’, I argued that a deterrence system of punishment can avoid the charge that it illegitimately uses offenders if its punishments are carried out ‘quasi‐automatically’: threats are issued by a legislature for deterrent purposes, but those who carry out the punishments have no authority to take deterrent considerations into account. Sprague has objected that under such a system, those who carry out punishments will be unable to justify their actions. I reply that if it is justifiable to set up the system in this way in the first place, then this justification will transmit to all actions carried out under it; and that it is justifiable to set up an institution of punishment in this way.

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