'Abstract Endangerment,' Two Harm Principles, and Two Routes to Criminalization

24 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2015

See all articles by R. A. Duff

R. A. Duff

University of Stirling - Department of Philosophy

S. E. Marshall

University of Stirling

Date Written: July 24, 2015

Abstract

We need to distinguish, as theorists too often fail to distinguish, two distinct harm principles. One, the Harmful Conduct Principle, concerns the criminalization of conduct that is itself harmful or dangerous: that principle cannot explain how we can have good reason to create offences of so-called ‘abstract endangerment’, of which many road traffic offences are good examples. We can explain such offences as those by appeal to a different harm principle, the Harm Prevention Principle. That principle, however, is a principle not of criminalization, but of regulation: it gives us reason to regulate conduct if doing so will efficiently prevent harm, without imposing undue burdens on those whose conduct is regulated. We then have reason to criminalize violations of such regulations, not because such violations are always harmful, but if and because they are wrongful. This distinction, between two kinds of principle and two possible routes towards criminalization, can be drawn whatever goals or values we posit as our starting points.

Keywords: Abstract Endangerment, Two Harm Principles, Two Routes to Criminalization

Suggested Citation

Duff, Robin Antony and Marshall, S. E., 'Abstract Endangerment,' Two Harm Principles, and Two Routes to Criminalization (July 24, 2015). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635589 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2635589

Robin Antony Duff (Contact Author)

University of Stirling - Department of Philosophy ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

S. E. Marshall

University of Stirling ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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