Finding the “Right” Level of Corporate Crime

business_ethics_highlights_2In the blog entry below, Canadian philosopher Joseph Heath discusses the theory, proposed by 19th century theorist Emile Durkheim, that society works to sustain a “normal” rate of crime. The crime rate, on this theory, is actively adjusted by the process of criminalizing (passing laws against) particular activities. When we “need” to see more crime (in order to see more punishment, which reaffirms the social order), we pass laws against activities that were previously considered bad, but not illegal. What Heath is talking about is standard criminal law. But consider: what does this imply for: a) corporate crime (i.e., crimes committed by, or on behalf of, corporations)? and b) wrongdoing committed within corporations (i.e., wrongs committed by corporate employees against their employers)? >>>

LINK: The challenge of maintaining a “normal” rate of crime (by Joseph Heath for In Due Course)

Emile Durkheim upset a lot of people, back in the late 19th century, by claiming that there was a “normal” rate of crime, which society seeks to maintain. He argued that the apprehension and punishment of criminals served a social function, by reaffirming everyone else’s commitment to the social order. In the same way that public rituals serve as a reaffirmation of faith for members of certain religion communities, the punishment of criminals plays the same role for members of society more generally. We find it easier to do our part in maintaining the social order when we have visible evidence that those who fail to do so are being appropriately sanctioned…..

What do you think?


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