This is the first book to take a comprehensive look at white collar criminal offenses from the perspective of moral and legal theory. Focussing on the way in which key white collar crimes such as fraud, perjury, false statements, obstruction of justice, bribery, extortion, blackmail, insider trading, tax evasion, and regulatory and intellectual property offenses are shaped and informed by a range of familiar, but nevertheless powerful, moral norms.
In the Realm of Criminal Law, Antony Duff seeks to defend the view that we should criminalize conduct only if it is wrongful. Skeptics of legal moralism argue that this occurs all the time in supposedly overinclusive offenses whose definitions capture not only the kind of conduct that constitutes the target wrong, but also a wider class of conduct that is not wrongful prior to prohibition. An example is statutory rape. Duff, in response, contends that such offenses need not violate (...) the requirements of legal moralism. Having exploitative sex with juveniles is obviously wrong even prior to its legal regulation. But having non-exploitative sex with juveniles is also potentially wrong, inasmuch as it involves a violation of a prohibition that society has decided is justified for instrumental reasons. While Duff’s analysis offers an ingenious explanation for why offenses like statutory rape need not violate the bare minimum requirements of legal moralism, it simultaneously exposes separate, largely unacknowledged, problems of fair labeling and proportionality. By combining in a single offense wrongs that are primarily malum in se with ones that are primarily malum prohibitum—a process referred to as “wrongfulness conflation”—we risk treating unlike wrongs alike, imposing disproportionate punishments, and blurring offense labels. And such problems occur not just in the context of statutory rape, but also with respect to a host of other supposedly overinclusive offenses, including various forms of sexual assault. (shrink)
The concept of cheating is ubiquitous in ourmoral lives: It occurs in contexts as varied asbusiness, sports, taxpaying, education,marriage, politics, and the practice of law. Yet despite its seeming importance, it is aconcept that has been almost completely ignoredby moral theorists, usually regarded either asa morally neutral synonym for non-cooperativebehavior, or as a generalized, unreflectiveterm of moral disapprobation. This articleoffers a ``normative reconstruction'''' of theconcept of cheating by showing both whatvarious cases of cheating have in common, andhow cheating is related (...) to, and differs from,other morally wrongful acts, such as stealing,promise-breaking, deceiving, disobedience, anddisloyalty. A paradigmatic account of cheating is developed that entails two elements: First, the cheater must violate a prescriptive (rather thandescriptive), mandatory (rather than optional),regulative (rather than practice-defining), andconduct-governing (as opposed todecision-governing) rule. Second, the rulemust be fair and enforced even-handedly, andmust be violated with an intent to obtain anadvantage over some party with whom therule-breaker is in a cooperative, rule-governedrelationship. Along the way is a discussion ofpuzzling cases of ``judicial cheating,''''``strategic cheating,'''' cheating because``everyone else is doing it,'''' ``cheatingoneself,'''' ``altruistic cheating,'''' and ``ulteriormotive cheating.'''' The article then applies thecheating paradigm in the context of whitecollar criminal law, arguing that the conceptof cheating provides a better framework forexplaining the ``moral wrongfulness'''' thatunderlies and helps to define offenses such astax evasion and insider trading. (shrink)
This symposium contribution offers a reconsideration of a range of “vice crime” legislation from late nineteenth and early twentieth century American law, criminalizing matters such as prostitution, the use of opiates, illegal gambling, and polygamy. According to the standard account, the original justification for these offenses was purely moralistic and paternalistic ; and it was only later, in the late twentieth century, that those who supported such legislative initiatives sought to justify them in terms of their ability to prevent harms. (...) This piece argues that the rationale for these vice crimes laws was much more complicated than has traditionally been thought, encompassing not just moralistic justifications but also a wide range of harm-based rationales—similar to those that underlie modern, technocratic, “preventive justice” legislation involving matters such as anti-social behavior orders, sex offender registration, stop-and-frisk policing, and the fight against terrorism. (shrink)
For retributivists, who believe that criminal sanctions should be used to punish only conduct that is blameworthy, the so-called mala prohibita offenses have always been a source of concern: When the conduct being criminalized is wrongful prior to and independent of its being illegal - as it is with presumptive mala in se offenses like murder and rape - the path to blameworthiness is relatively clear. But when the wrongfulness of the conduct depends on the very fact of its being (...) illegal - as is said to be the case with presumptive mala prohibita offenses like fishing without a license and buying drugs without a prescription - the argument in favor of criminalization becomes more difficult to sustain. Unless one believes that law-breaking as such is morally wrongful, criminal penalties would seem hard to justify. That, in any event, is the standard liberal, retributivist view. As I shall argue, however, things are considerably more complicated than this account would suggest. No offense, at least in the real world, is wholly malum in se or wholly malum prohibitum. Rather, the concepts of malum in se and malum prohibitum should be understood as contrasting, scalar qualities that all criminal offenses, to one degree or another, possess. Under such a conception, an offense could be, say, 80 percent malum in se and 20 percent malum prohibitum, or 20 percent malum in se and 80 percent malum prohibitum. Thinking about malum in se and malum prohibitum in this way can help us make a more precise assessment of the moral content of criminal offenses, taking account of the various ways in which law and legal institutions inform their moral content, the reasons people obey such laws, and what it means to “obey” the law in the first place. (shrink)