Vice Laws and Self-Sovereignty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is an important moral difference between laws that criminalize drugs and prostitution and laws that make them illegal in other ways: criminalization violates our moral rights in a way that nonlegalization does not. Criminalization is defined as follows. Drugs are criminalized when there are criminal penalties for using or possessing small quantities of drugs. Prostitution is criminalized when there are criminal penalties for selling sex. Legalization is defined as follows. Drugs are legalized when there are no criminal penalties for manufacturing, selling and possessing large quantities of drugs. Prostitution is legalized when there are no criminal penalties for owning or operating a brothel or escort service, no criminal penalties for working as a paid agent for sex work, and no criminal penalties for paying someone for sex who is above the age of legal employment and sexual consent. The criminalization of drugs and prostitution violate the right of self-sovereignty in depriving individuals of important forms of control over their own minds and bodies, but nonlegalization does not violate this right. It is therefore consistent, as a matter of principle, to advocate decriminalization but to oppose legalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalCriminal Law and Philosophy
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Drug decriminalization
  • Drug laws
  • Drug legalization
  • Mill
  • Prostitution laws
  • Self-sovereignty
  • Vice laws

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law

Cite this