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Posted April 6, 2011

Markel to Discuss Morality of Criminal Law at Journal Symposium

men's gold

Florida State University law professor Dan Markel will tackle the role of morality in criminal law during the inaugural Virginia Journal of Criminal Law symposium Thursday at 5 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion.

"The Virginia Journal of Criminal Law was founded to publish excellent legal thought and research as well as to support the law school's criminal law community," said Ashley Wilkinson, the journal's outgoing editor-in-chief. "We are very excited to host this symposium, as it helps us meet our dual goals."

Contrary to the claims of some leading theorists who insist that criminal law be predicated on moral wrongdoing or the risk of harm, Markel will explain why we should loosen up on the criminalization question, and get past the insistence on moral wrongdoing as a prerequisite for criminal law — at least in liberal democracies.

Markel will discuss at least two somewhat counterintuitive implications of his argument. First, the scope of conduct that is criminalized is broader in liberal democracies. Second, a retributivist worldview affects citizens' level of cooperation in investigating, enforcing and punishing crime.

Professors Josh Bowers (Virginia), Michael Cahill (Brooklyn) and Antony Duff (Minnesota) will discuss Markel's argument following his brief presentation.

Markel is D'Alemberte Professor of Law at Florida State University and the 2011 scholar-in-residence at the Center for the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University School of Law. He is the co-author of "Privilege or Punish? Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties" (Oxford 2009) and his recent articles have appeared in the California Law Review, the Virginia Law Review and the Yale Law Journal.