Thomas Søbirk Petersen
July 18, 2011
The aim of this critical commentary is to distinguish and analytically discuss some important variations in which legal moralism is defined in the literature. As such, the aim is not to evaluate the most plausible version of legal moralism, but to find the most plausible definition of legal moralism. As a theory of criminalization, i.e. a theory that aims to justify the criminal law we should retain, legal moralism can be, and has been, defined as follows: the immorality of an act of type A is a sufficient reason for the criminalization of A, even if A does not cause someone to be harmed. In what follows, I critically examine some of the key definitions and proposals that have, unfortunately, not always been carefully distinguished. Finally, I propose a definition that seems to capture the essence of what many philosophers refer to when they talk about legal moralism, while also providing more clarity.