Bias Crime Statutes: A Qualified Liberal Defense Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Layman, Daniel M.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • Since American legislatures began passing bias crime statutes (which set more severe penalties for crimes committed from biased motives) in the 1980s, many legal philosophers have argued that such statutes are unjust on the grounds that they punish character traits and feelings rather than actions and intentions. It is unjust to punish character traits and feelings, these authors have supposed, because character traits and feelings are not under agents' direct autonomous control. I argue that while it is unjust for governments to punish feelings and character traits, not all bias elements of crimes are feelings or character traits. Rather, some bias elements of crimes are intentions. I urge that in cases of biased crime in which the bias element in play is an intention, governments may punish the crime more severely than parallel non-biased crimes without violating the requirement not to punish what is not under agents' direct autonomous control.
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  • Postema, Gerald J.
  • Open access

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