Building Moral Credibility and the Disutility of Injustice

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Book Chapter

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This chapter reviews recent and previous studies that examine whether people's knowledge of the extent to which existing criminal law doctrines deviate from ordinary judgments of justice can affect their general respect for the law, as well as their intention to cooperate, support, and comply with it. The studies refute the apparent conventional wisdom that it is cost free for the criminal law to deviate from desert in the pursuit of crime control through deterrence, incapacitation of the dangerous, and other such coercive crime-control programs. There are crime-control costs in deviating from desert that follow from the system's reduced moral credibility with the community it governs. And those crime-control costs must be taken into account in setting an effective crime-control program.


criminal law, moral credibility, justice, judgment, crime control

Publication Title

Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert