Mediating the Offense Principle

Joel Feinberg

in The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law: Volume 2: Offense to Others

Published in print May 1988 | ISBN: 9780195052152
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785872 | DOI:
 Mediating the Offense Principle

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The legitimacy of criminal law’s concern with offensiveness even in the absence of harm or danger must rest on the intuitive force of the examples given, most of which have been made as extreme as possible and depicted with uncompromising vividness. The seriousness of an offense is determined by four standards: the magnitude of the offense, the standard of reasonable avoidability, the Volenti maxim, and the discounting of abnormal susceptibilities. Having determined the seriousness of a given category of offense based on these standards, the legislator will proceed to balance that seriousness against the reasonableness of various kinds of conduct that can produce it.

Keywords: offense; offending conduct; reasonableness; cultural change

Chapter.  11712 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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