Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Criminal ethics

Day to Day has a short series on "A Shadow in the City", a book by Charles Bowden about an undercover narcotics cop. In today's segment the now-reassigned cop tells of finding out that he was not anonymous. He said that he was once told by someone he had arrested (who was now out of jail) that "everybody knows where you live," and that it was just the unwritten rules of the drug culture that was keeping him alive.

This brought to mind a similar code among the Mafia. I wonder if anyone has done an academic study of the ethics and values embodied by these criminal codes.

There have also been a number of popular attempts to catalog universal values. See, for example, the Values in Action Institute Classification and The Josephson Institute's Six Pillars of Character. (One thing that surprises me about these efforts is that awareness doesn't seem to be one of the universal cultural values. But that's a separate issue.) My questions here are (1) is there a universal criminal code of values? and (2) if so, to what extent does it match these other universal value codes?

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