Legal theorist: Only two types of theories of criminal sentencing can be acceptable-retributivist theories, which hol...

Serra on June 21 at 10:53PM

Please Diagram

Could someone please diagram this entire argument and explain why answer choice E is correct?

2 Replies

Victoria on June 22 at 03:53PM

Hello @msaber,

Happy to help!

The passage starts off by saying: "Only two types of theories of criminal sentencing can be acceptable - retributivist theories...and rehabilitationist theories"

Acceptable criminal sentencing theories - > retributivist AND rehabilitationist

Not retributivist OR not rehabilitationist - > not acceptable criminal sentencing theory

The retributivist theory "holds that the purpose of sentences is simply to punish."

The rehabilitationist theory "holds that a sentence is a means to reform the offender."

"A retributivist theory is not acceptable unless it conforms to the principle that the harshness of a punishment should be proportional to the seriousness of the offence."

Retributivist theory acceptable - > conforms to proportional principle

Does not conform to proportional principle - > retributivist theory not acceptable

This proportional principle does not hold that "criminals should receive longer sentences for repeat offences than for an initial offence since repeat offences may be no more serious than the initial offence." Therefore, a retributivist theory that holds this violates the proportional principle and is, thereby, not acceptable.

We are looking for the answer choice which, based on the legal theorist's statements, must be true.

A is incorrect because we do not know what a rehabilitationist theory holds outside of the fact that a sentence is a means to reform the offender.

B is incorrect because we are provided with no information regarding the rehabilitationist theory's views on how to reform repeat offenders.

C is incorrect because we are not provided with sufficient information regarding the rehabilitationist theory to make this claim.

D is incorrect because, while a retributivist theory conforms to the proportional principle, this does not mean that all theories of criminal sentencing that conform to the proportional principle are retributivist and, therefore, this does not mean that they are all acceptable theories.

Finally, E is correct as evidenced by our statement diagrams above. A theory of criminal sentencing that holds that criminals should receive longer sentences for repeat offences than for an initial offence does not conform to the proportional principle. Therefore, if it is a retributivist theory, it is not acceptable.
The only other type of theory of criminal sentencing that is acceptable is the rehabilitationist theory. Since failing to conform to the proportional principle renders the retributivist theory unacceptable, a theory of criminal sentencing that fails to conform to this principle is acceptable only if it is the sole other type of acceptable criminal sentencing theory: rehabilitationist.

Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Serra on June 22 at 07:17PM

Thank you that makes complete sense!