Matthew S. Levine, Punishment and Willingness to Pay, 40 Gonz. L. Rev. 329 (2005).
In most aspects of modern law, we consider it a good thing that an actor is prepared to make good on his obligations and pay the costs of his actions. This proposition seems so intuitive that it is surprising to find some exceptions, cases in which an actor’s willingness to pay for his actions counts as a strike against him, or at least complicates society’s attitudes towards his behavior. In this article, I point to several such cases and argue that they suggest the need for some inquiry into the meaning of ex ante willingness to pay for one’s violations of social or legal norms. This inquiry can deepen our understanding of the purposes of and justifications for punishment, and complicate the relationships between law, punishment, and autonomy.