Vice Laws and Self-Sovereignty

Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (1):29-41 (2013)
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Abstract

There is an important moral difference between laws that criminalize drugs and prostitution and laws that make them illegal in other ways: criminalization violates our moral rights in a way that nonlegalization does not. Criminalization is defined as follows. Drugs are criminalized when there are criminal penalties for using or possessing small quantities of drugs. Prostitution is criminalized when there are criminal penalties for selling sex. Legalization is defined as follows. Drugs are legalized when there are no criminal penalties for manufacturing, selling and possessing large quantities of drugs. Prostitution is legalized when there are no criminal penalties for owning or operating a brothel or escort service, no criminal penalties for working as a paid agent for sex work, and no criminal penalties for paying someone for sex who is above the age of legal employment and sexual consent. The criminalization of drugs and prostitution violate the right of self-sovereignty in depriving individuals of important forms of control over their own minds and bodies, but nonlegalization does not violate this right. It is therefore consistent, as a matter of principle, to advocate decriminalization but to oppose legalization.

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Peter de Marneffe
Arizona State University

Citations of this work

Seat Belt Mandates and Paternalism.Jessica Flanigan - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (3):291-314.
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References found in this work

The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Moral conflict and political legitimacy.Thomas Nagel - 1987 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 16 (3):215-240.
Life's Dominion.Melissa Lane & Ronald Dworkin - 1994 - Philosophical Quarterly 44 (176):413.
The Morality of Freedom.Ernest Marshall - 1994 - Noûs 28 (1):96-98.
Rights, Justice, and the Bounds of Liberty.Donald Vandeveer - 1982 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 43 (1):120-127.

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