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Nathan Hanna


I'm a philosopher, specializing in ethics and philosophy of law. My research focuses on the ethics of punishment and related issues like the nature of desert, harm, and moral responsibility. I teach at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

For more info, see my CV or faculty page.



Last updated June 2018.

Published Work

Hitting Retributivism Where It Hurts [abstract]
Criminal Law and Philosophy, forthcoming
Retributivist arguments for punishment rely on assumptions about the moral significance of desert. I present evidence that many people have intuitions that are inconsistent with these assumptions. And I argue that this poses an important challenge to retributivist arguments.

The Nature of Punishment: Reply to Wringe [abstract]
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2017
Many philosophers think that punishment aims to be harmful. Bill Wringe has recently argued against this claim. I show that his arguments fail.

Harm: Omission, Preemption, Freedom [abstract]
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2016
I defend the Counterfactual Comparative Account of Harm: an event is overall harmful for someone if and only if it makes her worse off than she otherwise would have been.

Philosophical Success [abstract]
Philosophical Studies, 2015
I criticize Peter van Inwagen's success criterion for philosophical arguments.

Moral Luck Defended [abstract]
Nous, 2014
I argue that there is moral luck, that factors beyond our control can affect our moral responsibility.

Retributivism Revisited [abstract]
Philosophical Studies, 2014
I offer a new criticism of Retributivism - the view that punishment is justified on the basis of desert. And I show how the criticism extends to other justifications of punishment.

Facing the Consequences [abstract]
Criminal Law and Philosophy, 2014
I argue against deterrence based justifications of punishment.

Two Claims About Desert [abstract]
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2013
I challenge the popular view that whenever someone deserves something, it’s intrinsically good that she get it or there’s a non-instrumental reason to give it to her.

Legal Punishment and the Natural Right to Punish [abstract]
Social Theory and Practice, 2012
I argue against justifications of punishment that appeal to a natural right to punish.

Against Phenomenal Conservatism [abstract]
Acta Analytica, 2011
I argue against Phenomenal Conservatism, the view that we're prima facie justified in believing that things are the way they appear to be.

Cosmic Coincidence and Intuitive Non-Naturalism [abstract]
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 2010
I defend Intuitive Non-Naturalism in ethics from an objection by Matt Bedke.

The Passions of Punishment [abstract]
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2009
I argue against justifications of punishment that appeal to the reactive attitudes – emotions like resentment, indignation, remorse, and guilt.

Liberalism and the General Justifiability of Punishment [abstract]
Philosophical Studies, 2009
I argue that philosophical liberalism is incompatible with justifications of punishment that would hold across a broad range of reasonably realistic conditions.

An Argument for Voting Abstention [abstract]
Public Affairs Quarterly, 2009
I argue that voting abstention may be obligatory under certain conditions, condition that hold in some contemporary western democracies.

Say What? A Critique of Expressive Retributivism [abstract]
Law and Philosophy, 2008
I argue against retributivist justifications of punishment that appeal to its expressive value.

Socrates and Superiority [abstract]
The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 2007
I propose a new interpretation of Socrates’ arguments in the Crito.