Legal Moralism and Public Wrongs
Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S Moore, K. K. Ferzan & S. Morse (eds), Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
15 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 15, 2015
After sketching the main features of Moore’s version of legal moralism, and its connection to the type of retributivism that he espouses, I note its expansiveness, both as to the kinds of wrong and as to the range of agents that we have in principle reason to criminalise. I argue that we should instead ground a more modest legal moralism in the traditional idea of crimes as public wrongs and (in response to Moore’s criticisms of that idea) that we can begin to give it substantial content by beginning with the idea of the public realm that any polity must determine for itself; the way in which codes of professional ethics are developed on the basis of an account of the proper scope of the profession provides a useful illustration of this method.
Keywords: Criminal law, legal moralism, retributivism, public wrongs, professional ethics
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