The obvious problem of illegalization is that it can never be enforced perfectly. Moreover, it addresses only the symptoms and not the reasons underlying a certain behavior. What alternatives are there for a government?


Yes, prevention.

For example, there are two broad reasons why people steal items:

  1. they were unable to obtain the item,
  2. they have a mental disorder (i.e. kleptomania)

with the first reason, you have the following options:

  1. make the item more accessible (e.g. make the item cheaper, or lift any bans and stigma with the distribution of the item)
  2. eliminate the need for the item (e.g. provide a substitute)

Therefore, to reduce thefts, the state should start by eliminating poverty and providing sufficient resources for everyone.

Another example, rape. There are two broad reasons why people rapes:

  1. they were unable to obtain their preferred sexual gratification,
  2. they have a mental disorder (i.e. predisposed to violence or power conquest)

with the first reason, you have the following options:

  1. make their preferred sexual gratification more accessible (e.g. eliminate any bans and stigma associated with out-of-wedlock, same-sex, polygamous, underage, inter-generational, inter-race, incest, fetishes, BDSM, etc)
  2. eliminate the need for sexual gratification (e.g. castration, or hormone drugs)

Another example, murder. There are two broad reasons why people murder:

  1. they were unable to fill their hatred,
  2. they have a mental disorder (e.g. psychopaths)

with the first reason, you have the following options:

  1. make the hatred easier to fill (e.g. fair and efficient justice system)
  2. eliminate the need for hate (e.g. prevent hate)

Now this lefts us with only mental disorders. You can't really blame someone from having a mental disorder, and most (all?) mental disorder cannot be cured, however you can provide support to prevent them from actioning on their disorder. You can probably eliminate the existence of mental disorders though, by eliminating the bans and stigmas associated with abortions and making prenatal DNA testing of all genetic mental disorder more widely available.

I think the pattern starts to get obvious here, all crimes happens either because there is a need for something or because they have mental disorder. If the crime happens because of a need, then there is two ways to solve it, either by making it easier to fulfil the need or by eliminating the need.

I think by now it's also fairly obvious that it's going to be really difficult for a State to completely eliminate illegalisation. Way too often, making needs easier to fulfil or eliminating those needs is either impossible to achieve or conflicting with widely held moral frameworks or contradicts with the State's goals.

  • Thanks for your reply. Of course a state can't eliminate all illegalisation because not all need are filled in the society. I think not all crimes happens because of the two reasons you mentioned. What's about tactical crimes, e.g. murdering a president or a rival in business.
    – danijar
    Jun 9 '12 at 9:54
  • I thought about a constitution without illegalisation. We can't mention every need because they are a lot and they change by time. So how can we make a system which regulates itself?
    – danijar
    Jun 9 '12 at 9:56
  • 1
    -1 - I'm going to suggest that you entirely remove the rape example, and probably the murder example as well, because they inaccurately oversimplify extremely sensitive issues.
    – philosodad
    Mar 5 '13 at 23:48
  • Tactical crimes like murdering presidents or rivals are rooted in a need for power. A need for power is often rooted in a real daily needs that are unsatisfied, for example, the need of a sense of equality to other social groups, or the need to allocate resource to your own social circle to achieve a level of desired living standard.
    – Lie Ryan
    Apr 1 '17 at 2:11

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