follow CCP

popular papers

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

What Is the "Science of Science Communication"?

Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Making Climate Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down 

Neutral Principles, Motivated Cognition, and Some Problems for Constitutional Law 

Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus

The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Science Literacy and Climate Change

"They Saw a Protest": Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction 

Geoengineering and the Science Communication Environment: a Cross-Cultural Experiment

Fixing the Communications Failure

Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change

The Cognitively Illiberal State 

Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study

Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology

Whose Eyes Are You Going to Believe? An Empirical Examination of Scott v. Harris

Cultural Cognition and Public Policy

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in "Acquaintance Rape" Cases

Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White Male Effect

Fear of Democracy: A Cultural Evaluation of Sunstein on Risk

Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk


Some Realism about Punishment Naturalism

This paper, published in the University of Chicago Law Review, critiques the increasingly prominent claims of punishment naturalism – the notion that highly nuanced intuitions about most forms of crime and punishment are broadly shared, and that this agreement is best explained by a particular form of evolutionary psychology.  While the core claims of punishment naturalism are deeply attractive and intuitive, they are contradicted by a broad array of studies and depend on a number of logical missteps. The most obvious shortcoming of punishment naturalism is that it ignores empirical research demonstrating deep disagreements over what constitutes a wrongful act and just how wrongful it should be deemed to be. But an equally serious shortcoming of punishment naturalism is that it fails to provide a credible account of the social and cognitive mechanisms by which individuals evaluate both crime and punishment, opting instead for explanations that are either specific and demonstrably wrong or so vague as to be untestable. 

By way of contrast, the paper describes an alternative approach, punishment realism, that develops the core insights of legal realism via psychology and anthropology.  Punishment realism offers a more complete account of agreement and disagreement over the criminal law and provides a more detailed and credible account of the social and cognitive mechanisms that move people to either agree or disagree with one another on whether and how much praise or punishment a given act deserves.  The differences between these two empirical accounts also entail contrasting implications for how those interested in maximizing social welfare and public satisfaction with the law should approach questions of crime and punishment. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend