Should Law track Morality?

Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (2):205-223 (2017)
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Does the moral status of an action provide in itself a non-instrumental, pro-tanto reason for a corresponding legal status – a reason that applies regardless of whether the law promotes a value that is independent of the law, such as preventing wrongdoing or promoting distributive or retributive justice? While the relation between morality and law is a familiar topic, this specific question is typically not considered explicitly. Yet it seems to be controversial and each of the contrasting answers to this question has some appeal. The article highlights and considers this question. it concludes that the answer is negative: there is no necessary relation between morality and law in this respect. Rather, there is a reason in favor of incorporating morality into the law only when this incorporation promotes a moral value that is independent of the law.

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Re'em Segev
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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