Consumer Protection and the Criminal Law

This paper, presented at a Conference on the work of Gustav Radbruch, looks at Radbruch’s formula and Alexy’s version of it. It focuses not so much on the merit of the Radbruch-Alexy formula, as on its proper characterization, and its appropriate placement within the larger context of legal philosophy. The particular focus is the methodological question of what Radbruch and Alexy’s formulations – and their strengths and weaknesses – can show us about the nature of theorizing about law.

From the Hoyer and Lauk in an historical perspective, an epilogue stated that the liberal professions are invariably conceived of as a corpus of specialized knowledge of a scientific kind acquired through a long personal training qualifying for a practice exercised under personal responsibility. The most typical response in social science writings on professionalism is to deny journalists any possible status as professionals.

Journalists are employed in complex organizations where an efficient bureaucracy constitutes their immediate environment. From a sociological point of view journalism defies most attempts at precise definition; it remains a mysterious mixture of the personal and the public. (Fox 2000) The idea of responsibilities, not to mention any professional privileges, for journalists disappears also in the context of jurisprudence.

Media laws usually claim either the publisher or the editor to be responsible for the content of their media, not the journalist who wrote the objectionable story. The Supreme Court in the US gives the press, and even media conglomerates, protection under the First Amendment using the construction of a ‘corporate personhood’, in fact putting the public responsibilities of media in the hands of owners. 80 In a historical perspective the role of the liberal professions more generally seems to become more ambivalent. (Hedley 2005)

In developed economies we see three apparently contradictory trends: one of expanding professionalisation among occupations, another of increased domination in most industries by some few big companies – operated by professionals – and finally the government taking over responsibility of a large amount of the service sector – where we find most of the professionals. 81 As the number of professions multiplies, the typical place of work for professionals becomes the complex organisation: large corporations and large public institutions. (George 1994)

Both doctors, lawyers, professors and engineers increasingly work in complex, hierarchical and bureaucratised environments in hospitals, universities, law firms, engineering and electronic companies – just to mention a few. The project-oriented and the interdisciplinary problem-solving team have to a large extent replaced the individual consultant. This mixture of various elements of professionalism within a chain of task-oriented decisions sometimes blur the limits of the professional competencies involved and makes personal responsibilities more diffuse.


Cartwright, Peter. 1999. Consumer Protection and the Criminal Law: Law, Theory, and Policy in the UK. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press Fox, Robin. 2000. Human Nature and Human Rights. The National Interest, Winter 2000, 77. George, Robert P. 1994. Natural Law Theory: Contemporary Essays. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hedley, Steve. 2005. Abstract. Retrieved January, 6, 2007, from