If “Everyone Does It,” Then You Can Too
I argue that the “But Everyone Does That” (BEDT) defense can have significant exculpatory force in a legal sense, but not a moral sense. I consider whether legal realism is a better theory of the law than the more orthodox view of respecting the law as it is written. I next examine what the purpose of the law is, especially attending to how widespread disobedience is treated. Finally, I attempt to fit BEDT within Paul Robinson’s framework for categorizing defenses. I conclude that, first, BEDT can have significant exculpatory force; second, a BEDT plea does not comport with either Robinson’s definition of an excuse or other commonly held conceptions and so needs its own classification; and finally, BEDT does not exonerate the offender in a moral sense—only in a legal context.
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