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Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity$
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Will Kymlicka, Claes Lernestedt, and Matt Matravers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199676590

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676590.001.0001

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Community, Culture, and Criminalization

Community, Culture, and Criminalization

(p.47) 3 Community, Culture, and Criminalization
Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity

Nicola Lacey

Oxford University Press

In examining the merits of including cultural evidence as a tool for determining individual blameworthiness, it is useful to consider how the criminal law treats other mitigating factors that affect a person’s ability to comply with the law. For example, being raised in a poor neighborhood where criminality is rife is arguably relevant for assessing blameworthiness, and indeed sound philosophical arguments support the view that the victims of poor upbringing are less blameworthy. Yet the criminal law system does not typically view poor upbringing as a mitigating factor, and this chapter argues that there are good reasons for this. The ends of the criminal law constrain the space that can be given to philosophical arguments about individual blameworthiness. Thus there may be only limited room for cultural defenses.

Keywords:   blameworthiness, criminal law, cultural defenses, cultural evidence, mitigation, poverty

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