Original Research

The logic, life, language and limit of contractarianism on punishment

William Idowu
Inkanyiso | Vol 16, No 1 | a31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ink.v16i1.31 | © 2024 William Idowu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2023 | Published: 30 January 2024

About the author(s)

William Idowu, Department of Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria


The objective of this article is the critical assessment of contractarianism as an alternative approach to the justification of punishment. In doing this, the article focused on the logic, life, language and limit of contractarianism. The article discovered that even though the theory of contractarianism, when viewed from the perspectives of its life, logic, language and limit, is not a completely convincing alternative to traditional theories on the justification of punishment, however, it expresses emphasis on the unambiguous utility of the social contract idea in the justification of punishment. Also, the article discovered that contractarianism, in its theoretical justification of punishment, hinges on contractarian ideals such as human rationality, consent, voluntary commitment, agreement, enjoyments of benefits and the desire to see to the sustenance of society, as a morally acceptable and praiseworthy basis for the justification.

Contribution: The article concluded that an essential part to the merit of this theory of punishment is its positive allusion to and plausible accommodation and acknowledgement of the philosophy of preservationism.


Contractarianism; punishment; rationality; justification; limitabilism; preservationism; philosophy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


Total abstract views: 565
Total article views: 446

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.