Res Philosophica 97 (2):271-295 (2020)

Andy Engen
Illinois Wesleyan University
Philosophers have highlighted a dilemma for the criminal law. Unjust, racist policies in the United States have produced conditions in which the dispossessed are more likely to commit crime. This complicity undermines the standing of the state to blame their offenses. Nevertheless, the state has reason to punish those crimes in order to deter future offenses. Tommie Shelby proposes a way out of this dilemma. He separates the state’s right to condemn from its right to punish. I raise doubts about Shelby’s proposed resolution. So long as punishment is widely and reasonably understood to condemn crime, Shelby’s proposal does not resolve the dilemma. Moreover, there is reason to think the blaming aspect of punishment plays a role in the justification of its hard treatment. I conclude by considering some other ways out of the dilemma, focusing especially on how the United States might take responsibility for its complicity.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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DOI 10.11612/resphil.1842
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References found in this work BETA

Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On Being Responsible and Holding Responsible.Angela M. Smith - 2007 - Journal of Ethics 11 (4):465-484.
Hypocrisy, Moral Address, and the Equal Standing of Persons.R. Jay Wallace - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (4):307-341.
Towards a Modest Legal Moralism.R. A. Duff - 2014 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 8 (1):217-235.

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