Criminals in Uniform
32 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 11, 2012
In this paper I speak up in defence of an aspect of the ideal of the rule of law that is associated with A.V. Dicey and with the common law tradition, which I call the 'citizens in uniform' doctrine. According to this doctrine public officials, such as police officers, cannot hide behind their official roles in the face of the law. They answer to the ordinary courts for ordinary crimes and torts like the rest of us, and always in their capacities as themselves. Responding to some objections to this doctrine lately expressed by Malcolm Thorburn, I argue that the doctrine is consistent with (and in some respects consonant with) a recognition of the special moral position of the police and similar officials. I devote some energies to explaining aspects of that special moral position in the context of a wider outlook that I end up calling 'the unity of morality'.
Keywords: Rule of law, policing, criminal law, morality of killing, justifications, excuses, morality
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