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Here is a sentence:

Before we can examine the implications of neuroscience for criminal law, we must address two more fundamental questions: Why do we punish criminals at all? and How severely should we punish them?

I understand that question marks normally terminate a sentence, and so the following word should normally be capitalised. In this case, I have a list of two questions within the same sentence, so it seems that the "and" after the first question mark should not be capitalised (since the first question mark does not terminate the sentence). The first letter of each question is capitalised to indicate where the question begins.

The sentence seems right to me, but it's a bit unusual, so I thought I would ask for others' opinion.

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Question marks do not necessarily terminate sentences. Along with exclamation marks, they can occasionally serve the function of a comma, albeit slightly modified. In these rare cases, you can feel free not to capitalize the following letter. –  Anonym May 5 at 21:08

4 Answers 4

The suggestion by Gary's Student to use bullet points is a good one.

If the questions must appear inline for some reason, you can number them instead:

Before we can examine the implications of neuroscience for criminal law, we must address two more fundamental questions: 1) Why do we punish criminals at all? and 2) How severely should we punish them?

With a longer inline list (perhaps three or more questions), use semicolons to separate the items. For instance:

Before we can examine the implications of neuroscience for criminal law, we must address four more fundamental questions: 1) Why do we punish criminals at all?; 2) How severely should we punish them?; 3) To what extent must punishment emphasize rehabilitation?; and 4) Should the family circumstances of criminals be considered when sentencing?

The semicolons aren't necessary for clarification, but they encourage the reader to consider each point more thoroughly by slowing down their reading of the list.

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Personally, I wouldn't write that sentence except in casual communication (and maybe not even then).

I would rewrite it to eliminate the question marks.

Before we can examine the implications of neuroscience for criminal law, we must examine two more fundamental issues: the ethics of punishing criminals and the severity of their punishment.

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1  
"should the ethics of punishing criminals"? Is there possibly a word missing? –  Peter Shor May 5 at 20:34

I would use typography. Either "bulletize" the questions or list them:

There two separate questions at issue:

  • Is there a danger of drought?
  • What are your current water reserves?
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If you are mentioning questions rather than actually asking them, they should be in inverted commas : ...we must address two questions; "Why do we punish criminals?" and "How severely do we punish them?"

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'Should be in inverted commas' might have been correct 30 years ago, but I'm not sure everyone would agree nowadays. However, it does provide quite a neat solution here. –  Edwin Ashworth May 5 at 22:12

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