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Criminal law and republican liberty: Philip Pettit’s account

Horder, Jeremy (2022) Criminal law and republican liberty: Philip Pettit’s account. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 16 (1). 193 - 213. ISSN 1871-9791

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11572-021-09567-8


Philip Pettit has made central to modern republican theory a distinctive account of freedom—republican freedom. On this account, I am not free solely because I can make choices without interference. I am truly free, only if that non-interference does not itself depend on another’s forbearance (what Pettit calls ‘formal’ freedom). Pettit believes that the principal justification for the traditional focus of the criminal law is that it constitutes a bulwark against domination. I will, in part, be considering the merits of this claim. Is the importance of the orthodox realm of the criminal law solely or mainly explained by the wish to protect people from domination? In short, the answer is that it is not. Across the board, the criminal law rightly protects us equally from threats to what Pettit calls ‘effective,’ as opposed to formal, republican freedom. I will develop my critique of Pettit’s account of criminal law, in part to raise questions about the role of ‘domination’ in political theory, and about whether it poses a significant challenge to liberal accounts of criminal law.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2021 11:18
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2024 04:42

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