Freedom, criminal law, and philosophy; Zach Hoskins, PhD

Criminal law is restrictive by virtue of spelling out what actions can result in punishment. But why criminalize such seemingly innocuous acts as not wearing a seat-belt or eating junk food? Why is graffiti criminalized but not marital infidelity; marijuana but not tobacco or alcohol? When does the state have the moral right to limit individual freedoms and prescribe punishment? If these distinctions are morally justified, why? As answers to these questions depend on the very conception of “freedom,” we’ll consider various philosophical views on freedom, and what is implied when a state criminalizes specific behaviors of its citizens.