Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Susan Castagnetto

Reader 2

Dion Scott-Kakures

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Rights Information

© 2015 Devika Agrawal


This thesis explores the strength of the two major theories of punishment, consequentialism and retributivism. It also explores the two most critiqued systems of punishment in the world: The U.S and Norway. By presenting the idea that retributivism is the only plausible theory that can morally justify the U.S. penal practises, I argue against the theory by incorporating various objections delivered by Antony Duff, Michael Zimmerman, and Jeffrie Murphy. I then explore the question of what could possibly ground the Norwegian justice system, for the answer to this is crucial, if we hope to demand prison reform and tailor our systems to resemble the Norwegian ideal. To answer this question, I present a theory that incorporates the ‘capabilities approach’ as developed by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, arguing that the Norwegian prison system is grounded in a hybrid theory of consequentialism that aims to enhance our human rights.