The Voice of the Criminal Law

Criminal Law and Philosophy 18 (2):599-615 (2024)
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Abstract

In whose voice does the criminal law speak, and why does it matter? Miriam Gur-Arye argues that the answer to the first question depends on the kind of duty violated by the crime at issue. In some cases (say, election fraud or tax evasion), the criminal law speaks in the voice of the polity—but in other cases (say, murder or rape), it speaks in the voice of human beings. Or so argues Gur-Ayre. Not surprisingly, perhaps, a lot depends on what one means by the voice of the criminal law. In this paper, I defend two related arguments. First, the criminal law typically claims to speak in the voice of the polity, even if, in practice, it often fails to do so. Second, where the criminal law does speak in the voice of the polity, its doing so can contribute to its own justification.

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