Francesco Palazzo

Secularism in Criminal Law and Substantial Democracy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Secularism, Criminal law, Human Dignity, Punishment

Given the existing relationship between secularism and criminal constitutional law, this essay explores the connection between secularism and criminal law in Italy from three points of view. First, religion is examined from the perspective of criminal law, both as an object of criminal protection (crimes against religion and their present regulation resulting from the Constitutional court decisions and the legislative reforms implemented in this area) and as a freedom that can justify criminal conducts motivated by religious faith. Second, the most important tensions between secularism and criminal law are identified not in the present trend to strengthen the protection of human dignity through criminal provisions, but rather in the assumption of some values as «non negotiable», thereby denying the dialogical dimension which is required to give democratic legitimacy to (a constitutionally- oriented) criminal law. Third, the principle of secularism also concerns the topics of the purposes of punishment and of the requirements for liability, where in fact metaphysical legacies and the risks of utilitarian extremisms are still competing.

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