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The Seriousness of Crimes

Part of the Library Of Ethics And Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 16)

Since the claim of proportionalism is that the severity of punishment should be determined by reference to the seriousness of the crime, the task of clarifying what makes one crime more serious than another and how different crimes should be scaled relatively to each other, is obviously of vital importance. Unless it is possible to tell whether a rape is more serious than a burglary or whether theft is more serious than reckless driving, proportionalism will be a vacuous view unable to provide any practical guidance. Not only is some sort of ranking therefore a sine qua non with regard to how these and other crimes should be punished, but different degrees of seriousness may also have wider practical consequences for a number of questions concerning, for instance, the legality of arrest without warrant, decisions in trying a case at higher courts, or decisions to release prisoners on parole, etc.1 However, I shall not discuss here these more detailed implications but stick to the main question of crime comparison.

Keywords

Character Theory Previous Conviction Unfair Advantage Auction Model Prior Conviction 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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