The Ethics of Entrapment: A Dirty Hands Problem?

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In this paper we focus on a possible framework for analysing the morality of legal entrapment (which we define based on our previous work): the dirty-hands model. We take as our starting point Christopher Nathan’s criticism of the model (when applied to undercover policing). We have two aims throughout the paper. Our primary aim is to see if the model applies at all to legal entrapment; our secondary aim is to establish whether, if the model applies, Nathan’s criticism hold for it. Regarding the first aim, we present three possible versions of the model, loosely taking our inspiration from Nathan’s remarks and using the work of Janos Kis. We argue that the first two accounts don’t apply well to legal entrapment and the last, perhaps more plausible but still questionably applicable account has no room for morally wrong acts. Regarding the second aim, we argue that Nathan’s criticism of the model is not so forceful once we take account of all the resources available in the dirty-hands model. We end the paper with a brief conclusion and offer some concluding – and critical - remarks regarding a closely related alternative to the dirty-hands model as the right framework of analysis: admirable immorality.
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Archival date: 2021-03-17
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