Retributivism and the Dynamic Desert Model: Three Challenges to Dagan and Roberts

Jesper Ryberg*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A traditional assumption in retributivist thinking is the view that an offender's desert is determined exclusively on the basis of the gravity of the crime committed. However, this assumption has recently been challenged. Netanel Dagan and Julian Roberts have advocated a dynamic theory of desert, or what they refer to as “the dynamic censure model.” According to this model, certain post-sentencing reactions in the offender should be taken into account in the determination of the offender's desert and the severity of appropriate punishment. The purpose of this article is to assess this dynamic concept of desert. I argue that despite the fact that the model offers a new and interesting approach to desert and sentencing, it also faces a range of theoretical challenges that are not easily answered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCriminal Justice Ethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)56-67
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • desert
  • dynamic censure theory
  • proportionality
  • retributivism
  • sentencing

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