Of the Thief on the Cross: The Problem of Pain in Punishment
Paper given at the 1st Global Conference (2004)
In the middle ages, there existed across western Europe a wide range of capital and afflictive punishments. Beginning in the mid eighteenth century, these blood sanctions began to be replaced by imprisonment. Punishment became a private matter that occurred behind the walls of the penitentiary and involved minimal physical pain. This paper explores the reasons why pain was once an intelligible and integral part of punishment and in what way those reasons slowly but surely lost their resonance. To that end, this paper asks: What was the tradition of thought that assumed such a central role for pain and suffering in punishment? Why and how did that tradition lose legitimacy? And finally, what was the mode of thought which replaced that tradition?