Implications for Criminal Justice and Other Reform

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter focuses on reforms to criminal law that can establish moral credibility with the community the law governs. It first discusses reforms that would bring criminal liability and punishment rules more in line with community views. It then examines the most damaging kinds of reforms—those that seek to undermine the imposition of punishment generally, including certain forms of the recently popular “restorative justice” programs. Next, reforms relating to existing doctrinal deviations from empirical desert are discussed, as well as other reforms of deviation doctrines, the most important of these being the sharpening of the criminal–civil distinction. Finally, the chapter presents two examples of just how far empirical desert might take the criminal law beyond its present boundaries.


criminal law, law reforms, moral credibility, punishment, criminal liability, community views, restorative justice, empirical desert, criminal–civil distinction

Publication Title

Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert