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Daniel J. Hill https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4546-8662 Stephen K. McLeod https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1457-2942 Attila Tanyi https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2027-9446

Abstract

Some legal theorists say that legal entrapment to commit a crime is incoherent. So far, there is no satisfactorily precise statement of this objection in the literature: it is obscure even as to the type of incoherence that is purportedly involved. (Perhaps consequently, substantial assessment of the objection is also absent.) We aim to provide a new statement of the objection that is more precise and more rigorous than its predecessors. We argue that the best form of the objection asserts that, in attempting to entrap, law-enforcement agents lapse into a form of practical incoherence that involves the attempt simultaneously to pursue contrary ends. We then argue that the objection, in this form, encompasses all cases of legal entrapment only if it is supplemented by appeal to the premise that law-enforcement agents have an absolute duty never to create crimes.

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