Punishment without crime. Is it possible to condemn for the plan? Longread

27 November, 2022

Is it possible to punish people for crimes that they have not yet committed, but are likely to commit in the future? This question is discussed by philosophers Anton Kuznetsov and Andrey Nekhaev.

Punishment for future crimes is strongly related to the status of a cognitive agent. In ordinary life, we have many limitations that do not allow us to accurately determine the inevitability of future events, so we are not inclined to decide to punish people prospectively. However, with increasing probability, it seems reasonable to take preventive measures, which can be associated with both isolation and direct punishment, when the intention itself already becomes criminal. In this case, the logic is purely pragmatic. The situation becomes more complicated if there is an omniscient agent. Here our moral intuitions diverge, because it is known for sure that a crime will be committed, but, on the other hand, no one has committed it yet.