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By Barry R. Schaller

Throughout historical past, works of literature have helped to form public dialogue of social, felony, and political concerns. during this publication, Barry R. Schaller attracts on examples from American literature in offering an research of the felony elements of a number of significant difficulties dealing with our society. After picking the foremost criminal relationships in society, the booklet makes a speciality of difficulties of violence, lack of authority, reduced religion within the American dream of growth, and the demanding situations posed by means of colossal social and technological switch. the writer deals a collection of criteria to function a consultant to potent judicial choice making and to aid the general public in comparing the stability of these decisions.

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Example text

Here, both private codes—the racial code and the code of honor—operate to permit, even demand, vengeance against Nancy. Nancy is, in a sense, caught in the crossfire between these two codes. Given her status in society, she has no escape route and no protection. The evidence indicates that the representatives of the law elect not to intervene for the purpose of assisting or delivering Nancy from harm at the hand of Jesus. The law tolerates, perhaps even reinforces, the private codes in the community.

64 Another category of cases that has produced valuable discussion of the balancing of individual autonomy and state authority consists of cases brought under the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. These cases have arisen from a wide variety of factual scenarios. Addington v. Texas,65 for example, was a due process case that concerned the civil commitment of the petitioner on grounds of mental illness. The Individual Autonomy and State Power 29 Court determined that due process required the standard of proof in such matters to be greater than the preponderance of evidence standard, though it can be less than the reasonable doubt standard that must be met to find criminal guilt.

A higher moral code, a type of private code, is a system of values and conduct generated by religious tradition or higher ethical belief. Natural law is frequently characterized in terms of moral or ethical principles. Higher moral codes are more elusive and more difficult to identify than the other private codes. Moreover, there is often considerable overlap between moral codes and other private codes. In the course of their interaction with other factors, such as individual autonomy, equality, rights, and law, private codes often intervene between the individual and the community’s legal code, thus preventing or reducing the effectiveness of law as a regulator of conduct.

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