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KJuris & KCrim: Thaddeus Metz (University of Johannesburg) - "A Reconciliation Theory of Legal Punishment"

18 Nov
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KJuris: King's Legal Philosophy Workshop
Part of KJuris: King's Legal Philosophy Workshops 2020/21

KJuris & KCrim Seminar with Thaddeus Metz, University of Johannesburg

Title: 'A Reconciliation Theory of Legal Punishment'


After articulating a conception of reconciliation, I advance it as a candidate for being the proper final end of a criminal trial, contending that, far from requiring forgiveness, seeking reconciliation can provide strong reason to punish offenders. Specifically, a reconciliatory sentence is one that roughly has offenders reform their characters and compensate their victims in ways the offenders are expected to find burdensome, thereby disavowing the crime and tending to foster cooperation and aid. I argue that this novel account of punishment is a prima facie attractive alternative to familiar retributive and deterrence rationales, and note that it entails that widespread practices such as imprisonment and mandatory minimum sentences are unjust.

Speaker biography

​Professor Thaddeus Metz joined the University of Johannesburg in 2009, as a Humanities Research Professor. The Iowa-born scholar relocated to South Africa in 2004, joining The University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he was Professor of Philosophy and founding Director of the Centre for Ethics. Having worked on an eclectic range of topics, he is recognised internationally for his rigorous research into value theory, including the sub-Saharan ethic of Ubuntu, ‘the principle that an action is right insofar as it respects harmonious relationships, ones in which people identify with, and exhibit solidarity toward, one another’. He argues that this is the most defensible moral theory with an African pedigree and one that should be developed further with an eye to rivalling dominant Western theories, such as utilitarianism and Kantianism.

Professor Metz’s research also addresses Immanuel Kant’s notions of justice, which are grounded on the concept of human dignity and which he has applied to a variety of contemporary social issues of particular concern to South Africa and the world.

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