Islam and the Legal Enforcement of Morality

Joppke, Christian (2014). Islam and the Legal Enforcement of Morality. Theory and Society, 43(6), pp. 589-615. Springer 10.1007/s11186-014-9236-1

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Over sixty years ago, British high court judge Patrick Devlin and legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart fought out a famous debate over the legal enforcement of morality, which was generated by the question whether homosexuality should be legalized or not. Jurists agree that this debate was won by Hart, also evidenced in the fact that the state has since been retreating from its previous role of moral watchdog. I argue in this paper that the two most conflicted and essentially unresolved issues in the integration of Islam, the regulation of the female body and of free speech, have reopened this debate anew, pushing the liberal state toward the legal regulation of morality, thus potentially putting at risk its liberalness. I use the Hart-Devlin debate as a template for comparing and contrasting the Muslim quest for restricting free speech with the host-society quest for restricting the Islamic veil. Accordingly, there is a double threat to liberalism, which this paper brings into view in tandem, one originating from Islam and another from a hypertrophied defense of liberalism.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology

UniBE Contributor:

Joppke, Christian Georg


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology








Michalina Preisner

Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2015 13:43

Last Modified:

12 Apr 2016 08:01

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Liberalism, Law, Regulation of morality, Islam, Free speech, Veiling




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