It is unfortunate that Rothbard fails to distinguish between self-defense, restitution, punishment, and particular theories of punishment in The Ethics of Liberty.

He even writes that “all rights of punishment derive from the victim’s right of self-defense” (90), which is nonsense.

Self-defense is used by the victim to thwart the unjust aggressor during the commission of a crime.

Restitution is having the offender restore the victim what he wrongly took from him perhaps long after the tort or crime has occurred, and after a trial has yielded victory to the victim.

Punishment goes beyond restitution and harms the criminal for some purpose without benefiting the victim. This is reserved for criminal cases only.

And the four theories of punishment (condemnation, deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation) try to justify each in its own way such infliction of extra harm.


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