Criminal Entrapment

Joel Feinberg

in Problems at the Roots of Law

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155266
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833177 | DOI:
Criminal Entrapment

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The focus of this chapter is the conflict between various analyses of criminal entrapment. The question is who is the culprit when circumstances are arranged by police so that a person freely chooses to perform a crime that she otherwise would not commit? Entrapment is disturbing to us given our appreciation that every person seems capable (and thus predisposed) to commit some kinds of proscribed actions; thus, entrapment has become a derogatory term referring to an abuse of government power, and is often used as a defense in criminal law. This defense against liability considers both the strength of the police inducement and the strength of the defendant's predisposition to commit the crime. Although criminal liability is partly a matter of luck, not all moral judgments are matters of luck. In opposition to the view sometimes espoused by Thomas Nagel, whether a person deserves adverse moral judgment is not merely a matter of moral luck since it is not owing to luck that certain moral judgments correctly apply to her conduct: although there is reason to posit circumstantial bad luck, there is little reason to posit dispositional bad luck.

Keywords: crime; criminal defense; entrapment; moral luck; Nagel; power

Chapter.  10546 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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