Towards a Modest Legal Moralism
Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 8, 2013
20 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2012
Date Written: 2012
After distinguishing different types of Legal Moralism (positive/negative; modest/ ambitious) I defend a modest, positive Legal Moralism: we have good reason to criminalize a type of conduct if and only if it constitutes a public wrong. Some of the central elements of the argument will be: the need to begin not (as many Legal Moralists begin) with the entire realm of moral wrongdoing, but with conduct falling within the public realm of civic life; the significance of the various different processes of criminalization (of which legislation is only one); and the need to attend to the relationship between criminal law and other modes of legal regulation. Criminal law focuses on wrongs: it identifies a set of public wrongs, and provides for those accused of committing such wrongs to be called to formal public account.
Keywords: Legal Moralism, processes of criminalization, public wrongs, the public realm
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