A Soft Defence of a Utilitarian Principle of Criminalization

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The aim of this paper is to argue that the utilitarian principle of criminalization (UPC) is sounder than its poor reputation suggests. The paper begins by describing three possible answers to the research question: To what extent should the consequences of criminalization matter morally in a theory of criminalization? Hereafter I explain why I shall discuss only two of these answers. Then follows a detailed and critical specification of UPC. Furthermore, I will argue why criticisms of UPC made by philosophers such as Douglas Husak and Victor Tadros in their recent work are far from convincing. Finally, I will present a positive reason for accepting UPC as a principle of criminalization, namely: that UPC is consistent with what I call the Counterproductive Criminalization Principle, while non-consequentialist theories of criminalization are not.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRes Publica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)123-141
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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