When creating the norms of criminal law, the legislator should strive for their compatibility with the principle of human dignity while taking into account the ethical legitimacy of criminal law. This thesis is the axis around which The Ethical Legitimization of Criminal Law is constructed. Szczucki shows that criminal law is like a suit; to be a perfect fit, it has to be tailor-made. That is why he argues for three points of reference to guide moral evaluation of criminal law: first, the coherence of the legal system; second, the will of the legislator; and third, the virtues of citizens. Only by analyzing these concepts together in the context of legal culture can one answer the question of what makes good criminal law. The book concludes that an ethical perspective in analyzing, grounding, and evaluating criminal law is inevitable. Appealing to researchers, scholars, and professionals from across the criminal and legal spectrum, this book explores fundamental questions about the nature of ethical perspective in legal analysis.
Krzysztof Szczucki is assistant professor at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw and president of the Government Legislation Center in Poland.
Chapter 1: The Validity and Legitimization of Criminal Law
Chapter 2: Human Dignity as the Fundamental Source of Criteria for Ethical Legitimization in Criminal Law
Chapter 3: The Ability to Bear Responsibility in the Context of the Dispute over Free Will
Chapter 4: Issues of Anthropological-Ethical Analysis of Behavior
Chapter 5: Ethical Legitimization of Selected Criminal Law Structures
Although there is no legal system without criminal law, it is always necessary to question the legitimacy of criminal sanctions that massively interfere with fundamental rights. Krzysztof Szczucki derives The Ethical Legitimization of Criminal Law from the constitutional principle of human dignity and thus places the human being into the center of the criminal law concept. In an exciting way, starting from an anthropological-ethical analysis, he leads through fundamental philosophical questions of criminal law such as freedom of will and responsibility. His conclusions aim at a more humane criminal law; the examples discussed in more detail of limiting the punishability of mere omission and the right of self-defense as well as clarifying the boundaries of a so-called “enemy criminal law” (Feindstrafrecht) show the potential of the chosen approach.
Szczucki presents a startlingly insightful contribution to the field of ethics and criminal law. His book is an incredibly thought-provoking analysis which cleverly combines criminal law and philosophy to present a refreshing approach in an accessible way.
Szczucki’s The Ethical Legitimation of Criminal Law develops a new perspective on foundational issues of criminal law. The starting point of this book is that criminal law ought to serve human beings. Hence an account of criminal law must be grounded in ethics and also must be grounded in an understanding of human nature. Hence Szczucki develops a distinct account of human dignity and establishes the relations between human dignity and fundamental concepts of criminal responsibility. This book establishes the intimate connection that is sometimes ignored by criminal law experts between criminal law and ethics.