Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (2):273-294 (2017)

This paper argues that according to the influential version of legal moralism presented by Moore infidelity should all-things-considered be criminalized. This is interesting because criminalizing infidelity is bound to be highly controversial and because Moore’s legal moralism is a prime example of a self-consciously liberal legal moralism, which aims to yield legislative implications that are quite similar to liberalism, while maintaining that morality as such should be legally enforced. Moore tries to make his theory yield such implications, first by claiming that the scope of our moral obligations is much more limited than legal moralists have traditionally claimed, and second by allowing for the possibility that the goodness of legally enforcing morality is often outweighed by the badness of limiting citizens’ morally valuable autonomy and spending scarce resources on enforcement. If Moore is successful in this, legal moralism is strengthened because it becomes immune to many of the most damaging liberal objections. By showing that despite making those moves Moore’s legal moralism is still committed to criminalizing infidelity, a manifestly illiberal implication for legislation, it is established that Moore is unsuccessful in creating a liberal legal moralism, and Moore’s failure in this regard raises questions about whether there can be such a thing as a liberal legal moralism.
Keywords Moore  Liberalism  Legal moralism  Limits of the law  Infidelity  Legal enforcement
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DOI 10.1007/s11572-015-9370-5
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A Tale of Two Theories.Michael Moore - 2009 - Criminal Justice Ethics 28 (1):27-48.
The Enforcement of Morals Revisited.Richard J. Arneson - 2013 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (3):435-454.
A New Definition of Privacy for the Law.W. A. Parent - 1983 - Law and Philosophy 2 (3):305 - 338.

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