The Secret Politics of the Compatibilist Criminal Law
63 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2007 Last revised: 5 Aug 2008
Many criminal theorists say that we have a 'compatibilist' criminal law, by which they mean that in our criminal law a person can deserve punishment for her acts even if she does not have 'genuinely' free will. This conception of the criminal law harbors and is driven by a secret politics, one that resists social change and idealizes the existing social order. In this Article, I map this secret politics. In so doing, I call into question the descriptive accuracy of the compatibilist account of the criminal law, and set the stage for a franker discussion of criminal punishment - one that recognizes that the perpetual struggle to say just who 'deserves' punishment is driven as much by brute politics and the competition to allocate power and resources in society as by any independent moral logic.
Keywords: Compatibilism, Compatibilist Criminal Law, Originationism, Originationist Criminal Law, Responsibility, Criminal Responsibility, Moral Responsibility
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation