SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Legal Moralism and Jonathan Haidt's Durkheimian Utilitarism
(Philosophy of Law, English)

The main aim of the paper concerns the justification of legal moralism, ie. the state's right to enforce morality by the law and criminalise conduct only because it is immoral, even though it does not result in any harm to others. On the one hand, the majority of Western democracies decided to decriminalise male sodomy on the basis of liberal reasons on freedom of John Stuart Mill. This reasons are concentrated on the harm principle according to which, the criminalisation of conduct is legitimate only if the conduct may result in the harm of others. On the other hand, the same countries, recognise such offences as bigamy, incest or flag desecration. It leads to a contradiction between the basic, philosophical principles underlying legal systems.

The paper aims to answer the question as to whether legal moralism can be morally justified by the normative theory of society, called Durkheimian utilitarianism. Its creator, American moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, claims that in order to achieve its main aim, which is promoting the welfare of citizens, the state should not only focus on the utilitarian cost-benefit analysis but also take into account the moral foundations (described in the Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory) whose evolutionary function is to strengthen social bonds within the groups, e.g. Loyalty or Authority.

Provisionally, I will present the hypothesis that Durkheimian utilitarianism cannot morally justify legal moralism because it: a) commits naturalistic fallacy, b) its assumptions about human nature are not empirically grounded enough, and c) provides too weak positive reasons for legal moralism in comparison to the reasons against. To justify the validity of such theory, I will use the method of reconstruction of the strongest plausible interpretation (ie. the interpretation which contains as few gaps as possible and is resistant to the greatest number of counterarguments) to clarify the claims of Durkheimian utilitarianism. Then, intended to choose the version of legal moralism adequate for further research, main focus will be put on a conceptual analysis of terms used in ordinary, moral and legal discourse. After that I will include an analysis of the results of recent empirical studies on moral foundations, based the evaluation criteria of the assessment of scientific theories, such as empirical adequacy, simplicity, explanatory power, etc. Finally, I will provide the analysis and weighing of reasons for and against moralism.

Chair: Florian Wieczorek
Time: 11:10-11:40, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: HS E.002
Remark: CHANGE. The talk is cancelled!

Maciej Juzaszek 
(Jagiellonian University, Poland)

PhD student in law and in philosophy at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Interested in legal philosophy, ethics and moral psychology

Works on the problem of moral and legal luck, moral intuitions and legal moralism

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