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Law & Philosophy



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This Article examines the idea of betraying or being disloyal to one’s own country as a matter of criminal law. First, the Article defines crimes of disloyalty as involving failures to prioritize one’s own country’s interests through participating in efforts to directly undermine core institutional resources the country requires to protect itself or otherwise advance its interests by force. Second, this Article canvasses various potential arguments for the existence of a duty not to be disloyal to one’s own country and argues that they fail. Finally, this Article argues that we should interpret the wrong of disloyalty crimes as involving not betrayal or infidelity, but transgression of political boundaries. That is, the relevant wrong here is rooted in the ideas of separation of powers and assignments of roles between citizens and the state, and we should thus conceive crimes of disloyalty as crimes of usurpation and evaluate the moral rights and wrongs of such crimes accordingly.

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