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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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What Do We Have to Fear from the Cultural Defense?

What Do We Have to Fear from the Cultural Defense?

(p.177) 9 What Do We Have to Fear from the Cultural Defense?
Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity

Alison Dundes Renteln

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses critics of the cultural defense who have argued that while it might help improve our backward-looking judgments of personal responsibility, it would have serious consequences for the future operation of the legal system. A number of different versions of this argument are identified and distinguished. In response to each, the chapter examines what evidence, if any, exists to support them, and concludes that fear of the consequences is largely overblown. In the absence of credible evidence for forward-looking harms, it is argued that there are compelling principled grounds for the adoption of a cultural defense for its backward-looking benefits. Such a policy could then be reviewed if its implementation gave grounds for belief that it had demonstrable ill-effects.

Keywords:   cultural defense, law, responsibility

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