After briefly articulating a conception of reconciliation informed by the African tradition, philosopher Thaddeus Metz advances 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.
Metz argues that this novel account of punishment is a prima facie attractive alternative to familiar retributive and deterrence rationales, and notes that it entails that widespread practices such as imprisonment, mandatory minimum sentences, and (probably) the death penalty are unjust.
Thaddeus Metz is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Many of Metz’s more than 250 books, chapters, and articles address themes in African philosophy. Recently Prospect Magazine named Metz one of the World’s Top 50 Thinkers for having brought African philosophical ideas to global audiences.