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The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law Volume 1: Harm to Others$
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Joel Feinberg

Print publication date: 1987

Print ISBN-13: 9780195046649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195046641.001.0001

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General Introduction

General Introduction

(p.1) General Introduction
The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law Volume 1: Harm to Others

Joel Feinberg

Oxford University Press

Specifies the parameters of Feinberg's inquiry: he is concerned with the limits of the legitimate power of the state to impose criminal prohibitions on “primary” crimes. Put differently, his concern is the moral limits of individual liberty (understood as an absence of legal coercion). Criminal law regulates one's liberty by imposing duties, extending liberties, and conferring rights. Coercion‐legitimizing or liberty‐limiting principles provide moral considerations that weigh against the presumptive case for liberty. As a proponent of liberalism, Feinberg aims to limit the number of liberty‐limiting principles to the harm principle and the offense principle.

Keywords:   coercion, criminal prohibitions, duties, harm principle, liberalism, liberty, offense principle, power, rights, state

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