San Diego Law Review

Article Title

Legal Moralism Revisited

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type

Legal Moralism


I shall use this occasion mostly to clarify what the legal moralist theory of criminal legislation proclaims to be the proper limits on the reach of criminalization of behavior. But preliminarily, here in this Introduction, I want to remind readers of how the principle is motivated. First, recall what a principle of criminal legislation is. It consists of two closely related items. First of all, it is a principle that sets forth the proper aims of a legislature when that legislature drafts the prohibitions and requirements that constitute the “special part” of the substantive criminal law. It is, second, a principle that judges how well legislatures have hit their targets in passing criminal legislation, that is, whether the legislation they pass conforms to the proper limits of coercive legislation.