“Moral uncertainty" arises when ethical theories conflict and we are uncertain which one(s) should guide our conduct/policies.
This project applies the insights of the moral uncertainty literature to intractable debates between penal theorists. The moral uncertainty approach involves taking a step back from the punishment debate and considering the practical implications of the stalemate itself.
The project will investigate ways of assessing the credibility of competing theories; the extent to which areas of consensus between penal theories exist; and whether criminal justice-policy should be based on consensus between plausible theories, rather than seeking to rely on a single viewpoint that is judged to be the most plausible. The project aims 1) to develop a rational response to moral uncertainty about penal theories which could guide criminal justice policymakers and 2) to make a novel contribution by linking the fields of moral uncertainty and punishment theory.
Policy briefings and reports on how the project is progressing will appear on this webpage. I am grateful to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for funding this project.