Agency, Moral Psychology, & Punishment 11/15

Agency, Moral Psychology, & Punishment 11/15

Agency, Moral Psychology, & Punishment, Friday, November 15, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, sponsored by the Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics. The occasion includes brief presentations by three important scholars: Charles Griswold (Philosophy, Boston University), Susan Shell (Political Science, Boston College), Christopher Heath Wellman (Philosophy, Washington University, St. Louis), to be followed by discussion. The focus of the event is some important issues at the intersection of moral psychology and politics, highlighting tensions between contemporary carceral practice and the principles of a liberal-democratic polity.

Agency, Moral Pschology, and Punishment

Friday, November 15, 2013   3 – 5 pm

Conference Center, Room L.61

524 West 59th Street

Charles L. Griswold, Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy, Boston University

Professor Griswold will speak about self-forgiveness, with the point of departure being that one’s agential capacity can be harmed when one is unable to forgive oneself appropriately. He plans to connect that issue with self-excuse and with an agent’s taking of responsibility for becoming a better person.  (Author of Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration, Cambridge 2007, and numerous other books)


Susan Meld Shell, Professor and Chair of Political Science, Boston College

Professor Shell will make remarks on Locke, Kant, and other key figures, examining how their approaches to punishment are imbedded in a larger philosophic, political and rhetorical context with ongoing significance for current liberal quandaries. (Author of Kant and the Limits of Autonomy, Harvard 2009, and numerous other books)


Christopher Heath Wellman, Professor and Chair of Philosophy,

Washington University in St. Louis

Professor Wellman will speak about the centrality of rights in regard to punishment and, in particular, argue that the key to explaining the permissibility of punishment is how a criminal forfeits her right against a proportionate punishment when she violates the rights of others. (Author of Liberal Rights and Responsibilities: Essays on Citizenship and Sovereignty, Oxford, 2013 and numerous other books)


Convenor, Jonathan Jacobs, Professor of Philosophy, John Jay College and Doctoral Faculty in Philosophy, the Graduate Center, CUNY and Director, Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics 

Professor Jacobs will introduce the issues and lead discussion following the presentations.


Refreshments will follow the colloquium on the 8th floor of the New Building tower.

For more information or to confirm, contact Margaret Smith,

Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics webpage

Our guest speakers will bring their expertise to bear on the issue, broadening the conversation and highlighting various aspects of how and why this is a fundamentally important issue for a liberal democracy.

In addition to the information below, a flyer for the event is attached and of course, it may be shared. This will be a conversation, and we hope you will join it. Please spread the word, and join us on the 15th of November.

Some background to the event: The Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics is undertaking a project exploring ways in which prisoners’ capacities as agents can be so damaged by carceral experience that their ability to reenter civil society successfully is undermined. Thus, in addition to official types of disenfranchisement and disqualification there are unofficial but significant respects in which prisoners are harmed with regard to their ability to be prudent, accountable participants in civil society. The project is an attempt to explicate the conceptual, empirical, and ethical aspects of the issue in an integrated manner. [There is information about the Institute and its projects on its website:]