Crime without Punishment?
I thought I'd start by posting about something that has been puzzling me of late.
One of the purposes of criminal law in many countries is to protect individuals, or society at large, from harmful individuals, by means of either punishment (which usually takes the form of jail sentences) or deterrence.
Duff, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, says that "Crimes are, at least, socially proscribed wrongs—kinds of conduct which are condemned as wrong by some purportedly authoritative social norm. That is to say that they are wrongs which are not merely ‘private’ affairs, which properly concern only those directly involved in them: the community as a whole—in this case the political community speaking through the law—claims the right to declare them to be wrongs."
In light of this, I would ask you to watch some or all of the following video shot at an anti-abortion demonstration that took place in Libertyville, USA.
Now, I do not think that the people in the video would say that the woman who has an (illegal) abortion should not be punished. Given that anti-abortionists often self-identify as being strongly religious, it is probably fair to assume that they imagine that the woman in question would receive some sort of punishment in the afterlife (indeed, some of the people interview in the video appear to say so explicitly). Therefore, the peculiarity is not the decoupling between a criminal act about which one feels very strongly and the necessity of any sort of punishment, but between said criminal act and the necessity of legal punishment.
I strongly suspect that the people in the video would be very much against the abolition of legal punishment (of whatever form) in cases of battery, murder, etc. So my first question is: what is going on here? Is it simply that 'criminalization' (and particularly the implication ‘if crime then punishment’) is not a clearly understood concept? In other words, do people roughly reason as follows:
1. Very Bad Acts ought to be criminalized
2. Abortion is a Very Bad Act
3. Therefore, Abortion ought to be criminalized
But then, how do we account for the fact that no one is lobbying for jail terms following murder sentences to be abolished?
A second possibility is that there is some other kind of interpretation problem, perhaps deriving from a semi-propositional understanding of what 'taking a life' means in the context of abortion (i.e., perhaps even committed anti-abortionists, on some level, may not feel that shooting an adult and taking the day-after pill are exactly the same).
My second question is: Can you think of any other cases in which a form of conduct is perceived to be criminally wrong (and seriously so) but for which no legal punishment, especially jail sentences, is perceived to be required?