The Ethics Of The Criminal Law

2477 Words10 Pages
Man-made laws appear to have been in place for thousands of years, with the original purpose of the laws being to satisfy the wishes of a higher power- God. Due to the fact that laws were based off of religious scriptures, there was a clear guidance for lawmakers as to which acts should be classed as illegal. As time has progressed, and the role of religion in laws declined, there have been questions asked as to how the lawmakers are able to draw a distinction between acts which are permissible, and those which are impermissible. The purpose of the criminal law is to control the behaviour of citizens in order to protect the identity and morality of the society as a whole. By its very nature, the criminal law is an autonomy-limiting principle, and consequently many believe that it should be used as a last resort, and not applied to trivial or frivolous acts. These “last-resort” theories lie on the liberal end of the spectrum and include theories of Harm, and Offence. This essay will evaluate the validity of claims of criminalisation, and apply these theories to the controversial topics of Bestiality and Necrophilia, in order to conclude if any of these theories of criminalisation could offer a satisfactory guideline for lawmakers. Firstly, is the theory that the state should only criminalise those acts which would otherwise cause harm to others. A harm-based approach appears logical for many, as it seeks to enforce individual freedom from interference, and criminalises on
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