Advertisement

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 309–327 | Cite as

Hypocrisy, Inconsistency, and the Moral Standing of the State

  • Kyle G. FritzEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Several writers have argued that the state lacks the moral standing to hold socially deprived offenders responsible for their crimes because the state would be hypocritical in doing so. Yet the state is not disposed to make an unfair exception of itself for committing the same sorts of crimes as socially deprived offenders, so it is unclear that the state is truly hypocritical. Nevertheless, the state is disposed to inconsistently hold its citizens responsible, blaming or punishing socially deprived offenders more often or more harshly than other offenders, even when the crimes are the same. The state’s stable disposition to inconsistently hold offenders responsible undermines its standing to hold offenders responsible for the same reasons that hypocrisy undermines standing; instead of making an unfair exception of itself, the state makes an unfair exception of others. Strikingly, this means that the state lacks the standing to hold anyone responsible for a crime for which it is unfairly disposed to hold citizens responsible inconsistently, not just socially deprived offenders. Thus, it is even more urgent that the state regain its moral standing by working toward a justice system that holds offenders responsible consistently.

Keywords

Standing Hypocrisy Inconsistency Blame Punishment Social justice 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Dan Miller, Steve McFarlane, and Simone Gubler for invaluable conversations and comments on previous drafts of this paper. Thanks also to an anonymous referee for helpful suggestions.

References

  1. Alexander, Michelle. 2012. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, Macalester. 2013. “The Standing to Blame: A Critique,” in D. Justin Coates and Neal A. Tognazzini (eds.), Blame: Its Nature and Norms (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 263–281.Google Scholar
  3. Bunting, W.C., Lynda Garcia, and Ezekiel Edwards. 2013. “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.” American Civil Liberties Union. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2819708.
  4. Chau, Peter. 2012. “Duff on the Legitimacy of Punishment of Socially Deprived Offenders.” Criminal Law and Philosophy 6: 247–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Duff, R.A. 2001. Punishment, Communication, and Community. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Duff, R.A. 2007. Answering for Crimes. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Duff, R.A. 2010. “Blame, Moral Standing, and the Legitimacy of the Criminal Trial.” Ratio 23: 123–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fritz, Kyle G. 2014. “Responsibility for Wrongdoing Without Blameworthiness: How it Makes Sense and How it Doesn’t.” The Philosophical Quarterly 64: 569–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fritz, Kyle G., and Daniel Miller. 2018. “Hypocrisy and the Standing to Blame.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99: 118–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harrell, Erika, Lynn Langton, Marcus Berzofsky, Lance Couzens, and Hope Smiley-McDonald. 2014. “Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008-2012.” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5137.
  11. Holroyd, Jules. 2010. “Punishment and Justice.” Social Theory and Practice 36: 78–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Howard, Jeffrey. 2013. “Punishment, Socially Deprived Offenders, and Democratic Community.” Criminal Law and Philosophy 7: 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kochhar, Rakesh, and Anthony Cilluffo. 2017. “How Wealth Inequality Has Changed in the U.S. Since the Great Recession, by Race, Ethnicity and Income.” Pew Research Center, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/01/how-wealth-inequality-has-changed-in-the-u-s-since-the-great-recession-by-race-ethnicity-and-income/.
  14. Lippke, Richard. 2003. “Diminished Opportunities, Diminished Capacities: Social Deprivation and Punishment.” Social Theory and Practice 29: 459–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Matravers, Matt. 2006. “‘Who’s Still Standing?’ A Comment on Antony Duff’s Preconditions of Criminal Liability.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 3: 320–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McKenna, Michael. 2012. Conversation and Responsibility. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Motivans, Mark. 2017. “Federal Justice Statistics, 2014- Statistical Tables.” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fjs14st.pdf.
  18. Murphy, Jeffrie. 1973. “Marxism and Retribution.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 2: 217–243.Google Scholar
  19. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). 2017. Statistical Briefing Book, https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05271&text=yes.
  20. Poe-Yamagata, Eileen, and Michael A. Jones. 2000. And Justice for Some: Differential Treatment of Youth of Color in the Justice System. Washington, D.C.: Building Blocks for Youth.Google Scholar
  21. Reiman, Jeffrey, and Paul Leighton. 2001. The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison. 10th edition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Rhodes, William, Ryan Kling, Jeremy Luallen, and Christina Dyous. 2015. “Federal Sentencing Disparity: 2005-2012″. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fsd0512.pdf.
  23. Robinson, Paul H. 1993. “The Criminal-Civil Distinction and Dangerous Blameless Offenders.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 83: 693–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rovner, Joshua. 2016. “Racial Disparities in Youth Commitments and Arrests.” The Sentencing Project. http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/racial-disparities-in-youth-commitments-and-arrests/.
  25. Tadros, Victor. 2009. “Poverty and Criminal Responsibility.” Journal of Value Inquiry 43: 391-413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Todd, Patrick. 2017. “A Unified Account of the Moral Standing to Blame.” Forthcoming in Noûs.  https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12215.Google Scholar
  27. Wallace, R. Jay. 2010. “Hypocrisy, Moral Address and the Equal Standing of Persons.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 38: 307–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Watson, Gary. 2015. “A Moral Predicament in the Criminal Law.” Inquiry 58: 168–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wenar, Leif. 2005. “The Nature of Rights.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 33: 223–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Policy LeadershipUniversity of MississippiUniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations