Principle of Charity


Do Criminals Deserve to be Punished?

Season 1, Ep. 12

When someone breaks the law, most of us have an instinct that they should be punished. In fact, that they deserve to be punished. At the base of this is a sense that we are morally responsible for our actions and we should get our ‘just deserts’ if we make bad choices. 


This assumption is deeply encoded in the criminal law itself. Sure, there are other reasons we may want to put criminals behind bars – keeping society safe, deterring others from committing the same crime, even rehabilitation. But deep down lies the instinct of ‘retribution’, that a person who has done wrong just deserves to be punished for their wrongdoing. 


But why do they? Well, at the root of it is our cherished belief that we have ‘free will’. That we make our decisions freely and that we can choose to act differently. 


Our guest Gregg Carusso rejects this idea entirely. He sees free will as an illusion. He asks us to consider a justice system built entirely without retributive justice, where no one is imprisoned because they ‘deserve’ to be punished. Gregg is Professor of Philosophy, State University New York, Corning, Honorary Professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University and Co Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. 

In his latest book Just Deserts, Gregg debates with fellow philosopher Daniel C Dennett moral responsibility, punishment and free will.


Our other guest, Katrina Sifferd believes the justice system can and should be grounded in a concept of free will. She shares some concerns with Gregg that the system is at times overly punitive, but believes that we have the capacity to act as morally responsible individuals. In fact, in her book ‘Responsible Brains’, she looks at the neuroscience at work in our brain, and sees our ‘executive function’ as the seat of our moral responsibility. Katrina is professor and chair of philosophy at  Chicago’s Elmurst University and  co editor in chief of the publication Neuro-ethics.  Katrina earned a Juris Doctorate and has worked on criminal justice projects for the US National Institute of Justice.  She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on responsibility, criminal law and punishment.


You can be part of the discussion @PofCharity on Twitter, @PrincipleofCharity on Facebook and @PrincipleofCharityPodcast on Instagram.


Your hosts are Lloyd Vogelman and Emile Sherman.


Find Lloyd @LloydVogelman on Linked in


Find Emile @EmileSherman on Linked In and Twitter.


This Podcast is Produced by Jonah Primo and Bronwen Reid


Find Jonah @JonahPrimomusic on Instagram. 

More Episodes


Is Complementary (Alternative) Medicine Helpful?

Season 1, Ep. 23
What do we do when we don’t feel well and mainstream western medicine can’t seem to help us. Maybe it’s an irritable bowel, headaches that come too frequently, chronic fatigue or joint pain that just won’t go away. Maybe it’s more serious - a life-threatening diagnosis of cancer, or a neurological condition like parkinsons, and we are told by doctors that there’s no cure or they have limited treatment options. In all these cases, how should we assess complementary medicine?  The alternative medicine market is a massive and growing industry increasingly framing health as  ‘wellness’ which aims to help us live a life of flourishing rather than just an absence of illness. Is there a point, though, when the therapies shift from helpful to hoax? In this episode with our guests Dr Norman Swan and Dr Penny Caldicott we explore what’s reasonable to do if we feel sick, but our doctor doesn’t seem to be able to help.Dr Norman SwanNorman is a multi-award winning broadcaster, journalist and commentator. He is the host and creator of the Health Report, on ABC Radio National, which is the longest running health programme in the English-speaking world. Norman consulted for the World Health Organisation on global priorities in health research, putting evidence into health policy and clinical trial registration. He co-facilitated, with Richard Horton (editor in chief of The Lancet) a global ministerial forum in Bamako, West Africa which aimed to advance the global health agenda.In his latest book “So You Want To Live Longer, Younger”  Norman scrutinises the science and the fads to offer up a guide to living a longer, healthier life.Dr Penny CaldicottPenny is president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.  She’s also the founder and director of Invitation to Health, a  holistic,  patient-centred medical service on the New South Wales Central Coast. Since graduating from medical school more than two decades ago, Penny’s passion for understanding the journey that contributes to a patient's disease has led her to practice what’s called integrative medicine.  In this practice, complementary therapists like naturopaths and nutritionists work together with gp’s  in an environment designed to apply the best of evidence-based conventional medicine and complementary therapies..Penny believes that this kind of collaborative approach to the prevention of disease can play a significant role in turning back chronic disease in Australia.  She’s a strong advocate within the medical establishment and to governments for a pre-emptive model of health care, one that aspires to both prevent chronic disease and to accompany patients back towards well being.~~ You can be part of the discussion @PofCharity on Twitter, @PrincipleofCharity on Facebook and @PrincipleofCharityPodcast on Instagram. Your hosts are Lloyd Vogelman and Emile Sherman. Find Lloyd @LloydVogelman on Linked in Find Emile @EmileSherman on Linked In and Twitter. This Podcast is Produced by Jonah Primo and Bronwen Reid Find Jonah @JonahPrimo on Instagram. 

Spotlight with Claire Lehmann: Does the online media landscape help us seek the truth or win the fight?

Season 1, Ep. 21
Australian Claire Lehmann left university and founded the online magazine Quillette  to counter what she saw as an orthodoxy in knowledge coming from the progressive left. Claire perceived a lack of rigor in the humanities where, it seemed to her,  ideology was trumping evidence.Since its inception as a start-up in 2015, Quillette has gone on to achieve an international reputation for free speech advocacy, political commentary and journalism, appealing to as many as two million followers a month. It’s become a community for people who feel they’ve been ostracised by a progressive left wing media that doesn’t allow room for differing viewpoints. In this Spotlight episode, we explore with Claire some of the big issues facing the traditional institutions of academia and of journalism when it comes to the production of knowledge. Claire assesses the advantages of not just Quillette but of the online media landscape which has given voice to a whole range of people and diverse voices. We also probe the limitations of this world of online journalism, and ask Claire whether there’s sufficient rigor to ensure that knowledge is being improved.Guest BioClaire LehmannClaire is the founder and editor in chief of Quillette. She was named among  “Ten Aussies who Shook the World in Tech and Media” in 2018, and is a weekly contributor to The Australian. She co edited Panics and Persecutions: 20 Tales of Excommunication in the Digital Age which was published in 2020.