Legal Hypocrisy

Ratio Juris 32 (1):2-20 (2019)
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Abstract

Accusations of hypocrisy in law and politics typically invoke hypocrisy as a personal failing. This locution misses the much more dangerous way laws and legal institutions themselves can be hypocritical. Hypocrisy can be equally revealed when an institution not only deceives another but acts against its avowed values or does not act in ways required by the values professed. Thus, legal actors, institutions, and norms can, in their institutional role, act against the values they avow, displaying legal hypocrisy. By avowing attractive values while acting in ways that undermine those values, laws and legal institutions victimize citizens to achieve goals that could not be openly justified. In doing so, hypocritical laws not only harm their victims but, by obscuring the injury, undermine the victim’s ability to call the law into account. Hypocrisy is important to highlight precisely because it suffocates the voice of its victims. Because hypocrisy takes advantage of a person while only pretending to justify one’s actions, hypocrisy not only harms citizens but treats them with a form of contempt. The vicious irony is that hypocrisy in the law not only harms its “direct victims” but ultimately undermines the very rule of law.

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Citations of this work

The Moral Burdens of Police Wrongdoing.Eric J. Miller - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (2):219-269.
Moral Failure and the Law.John Eekelaar - 2020 - Ratio Juris 33 (4):368-379.

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