On Responsibility and Punishment

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1995-02

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Abstract

The litany of social dysfunction is now familiar. The rates of violent crime are higher than they have ever been: Americans kill and maim one another at per-capita rates an order of magnitude higher than other industrialized nations. The rate of marriage has been generally declining and the rate of illegitimacy hits new highs each year. Tens of thousands of children have no fathers and no family member or close acquaintance who has a regular job. This pattern is now repeating into a second and third generation. Illiteracy is becoming a problem and schools have so lost authority that the accepted response to armed pupils is to install metal detectors. Senator Moynihan in a celebrated article recently pointed out how we cope with social disintegration by redefining deviancy, so that crimes become "normal" behavior...

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