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Journal Article

Virtue and Inculpation

Kyron Huigens
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 108, No. 7 (May, 1995), pp. 1423-1480
DOI: 10.2307/1341807
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1341807
Page Count: 58
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Virtue and Inculpation
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Abstract

The criminal justice system assesses inculpation according to judgments about the virtue of the defendants. Kyron Huigens asserts that such a republican theory of the criminal law stressing judgment and the good is plausible and necessary, both to explain the defenses and to describe the broader principles of blame and punishment in criminal justice. Huigens locates the elements of his theory in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotelian virtue is a matter of sound practical judgment in the pursuit of the good. Basing blame and punishment on virtue in this sense is legitimate because in an interdependent society we define the good of all as we define the good for ourselves and because our best opportunity for attaining our own good lies with a concerned involvement with the good of others. Aristotle's definition of virtue as an indeterminate, context-sensitive faculty of judgment explains and justifies our reliance on the jury, and defuses counter-arguments charging perfectionism and determinism. Applying the theory to concrete issues, Huigens demonstrates how virtue ethics establishes a compelling theoretical basis for the punishment of criminal negligence, inchoate offenses, and crimes of omission.

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