This chapter focuses on those penal statutes that make it a crime to engage in prohibited conduct, subject to regulation, that would not be viewed as entailing significant moral wrongfulness independent of its prohibition — regulatory offenses characterized as mala prohibita. It considers certain generic forms of regulatory crime, such as engaging in one or another activity without a license, failing to file forms required by the government, or failing to comply with some testing requirement. The question is: when, if ever, is it morally wrong to violate a statute prohibiting some regulated conduct that would not be viewed as morally wrong independent of its prohibition? Even if there is no generally applicable moral obligation to obey the law, there might still be specific cases in which conduct that is otherwise morally neutral becomes wrongful as a result of its prohibition. The chapter examines the possibility that such offenses are informed by the norms against cheating, promise-breaking, and disobedience.
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