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64 Calif. L. Rev. 871 (1976)
Respect for Life and Regard for Rights in the Criminal Law

handle is hein.journals/calr64 and id is 884 raw text is: California Law Review
VOL. 64                       JuLY 1976                         No. 4
Respect for Life and Regard for
Rights in the Criminal Law*
Sanford H. Kadisht
In this essay Dean Kadish searches for underlying principles that ex-
plain the pattern of rules of the criminal law governing when life may
be taken. Finding neither the sanctity of life nor any other single
general principle sufficient, he looks more particularly for narrower
principles identifiable in discreet categories of rules; specifically those
governing intentional killings of aggressors, intentional killings of by-,
standers, omissions and unintended killings. He identifies a number
of principles and policies, several in acute tension and conflict, in-
cluding the right to resist aggression, the principles of autonomy and
proportionality and the calculus of social advantage. He concludes
by illustrating how these principles bear on some of the more contro-
versial questions of life and death confronting the criminal law today.
Life is a unique kind of good because it is the necessary condition
for the enjoyment of all other goods. Therefore, every person by and
large tends to value his life preeminently, and any society must place
a high value on preserving it. As Professor Hart observed, our con-
cern is with social arrangements for continued existence, not with those
of a suicide club.' But while the aim of survival affords a reason
why . . . law and morals should include a specific content,'2 it obvi-
ously does not afford a reason why that content should include placing
the survival of every person above all else. For although we value our
Copyright @ 1976, Sanford H. Kadish
*  This Article is based on the Thalheimer Lecture delivered at Johns Hopkins
University, April 24, 1975, and will appear in the volume comprising the 1975 Thal-
heimer Lectures to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press, entitled, REspEcr
t- Dean and Morrison Professor of Law, School of Law, University of California,
1. H.L.A. HART, THE CoNcEPT OF LAW 188 (1961).
2. Id. at 189 (emphasis deleted).

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