The Problem of Punishment
A Kayden Book Award Author-Meets-Critics Symposium

Saturday, April 4 2009
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Graham Oddie, Introduction (10:00)
David Boonin, "What's the Problem?" (10:00-10:30)
John Martin Fischer, "Desert and the Justification of Punishment" (10:30-12:00)

George Sher, "Fairness-Based Retributivism: A Defense" (1:30-3:00)
Stephen Kershnar, "Rights, Punishment, and Restitution" (3:15-4:45)
David Boonin, Concluding Remarks (4:45-5:00)

David Boonin's book, The Problem of Punishment, was published by Cambridge University Press in April 2008.  It was one of two books that year to receive a Kayden Book Award from the University of Colorado and funding for the symposium was made possible by a grant from the Eugene M. Kayden endowment that was part of that award.  The book presents an account of the moral problem that is raised by the state's practice of punishing people for breaking the law, argues that we have no successful solution to the problem, and concludes that the practice of punishing people for breaking the law should be abolished.  A pdf file of the first ten pages of the book can be found here

After a short presentation in which Professor Boonin will summarize the main contents of his book, the symposium will consist of three main sessions.  In each of these sessions, an invited speaker will present a critical response to the book, Professor Boonin will briefly respond, and the floor will then be open for questions from the audience.  The symposium is free and open to the wider academic community as well as to the general public.  For further information, please contact David Boonin at

Graham Oddie is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado.
David Boonin is Associate Professor and Chair of  the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado. 
John Martin Fischer is UC President's Chair, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.
George Sher is Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Philosophy at Rice University.
Stephen Kershnar is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Fredonia. 

MCOL is the Museum Collections Building.  It is located just east of the intersection of Broadway and College Avenue.on the main campus of the University of Colorado.