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Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity

Will Kymlicka, Claes Lernestedt, and Matt Matravers


The idea of a cultural defense in criminal law is often ridiculed. To allow someone charged with a crime to say “this is my culture” as an excuse seems to open the door to cultural relativism, to jeopardize the protection of fundamental rights, and to undermine norms of individual responsibility. Yet many scholars insist that cultural evidence is essential for the fair operation of the criminal law. Precisely because the criminal law is society’s most powerful tool for regulating behavior, we apply safeguards to ensure that criminal sanctions are imposed fairly. With respect to individuals, th ... More

Keywords: blameworthiness, culture, cultural defense, cultural diversity, criminal law, defenses, desert, multiculturalism, punishment, responsibility

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199676590
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676590.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Will Kymlicka, editor
Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy, Queen's University

Claes Lernestedt, editor
Professor of Criminal Law, Uppsala University

Matt Matravers, editor
Director of the School of PEP and Director, Morrell Centre for Toleration, University of York

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