I take it as obvious that attempts to justify the criminal law must be sensitive to matters of criminalizationâto what conduct is proscribed or permitted. I discuss three additional matters that should be addressed in order to justify the criminal law. First, we must have a rough idea of what degree of deviation is tolerable between the set of criminal laws we ought to have and the set we really have. Second, we need information about how the (...)criminal law at any given time and place is administered, since the law in action is bound to differ radically from the law on the books. Finally, we must have some basis for speculating what life would be like in the absence of a system of criminal justiceâif the state ceased to impose punishments. (shrink)
Does criminal liability require an act? -- Motive and criminal liability -- The costs to criminal theory of supposing that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility -- Transferred intent -- The nature and justifiability of nonconsummate offenses -- Strict liability, justice, and proportionality -- The sequential principle of relative culpability -- Willful ignorance, knowledge, and the equal culpability thesis : a study of the significance of the principle of legality -- Rapes without rapists : consent and reasonable mistake (...) -- Mistake of law and culpability -- On the supposed priority of justification to excuse -- Partial defenses -- The "but everybody does that!" defense -- The de minimis "defense" to criminal liability -- Why punish the deserving -- Malum prohibitum and retributivism -- Already punished enough. (shrink)
Many scholars and activists have argued that the International Criminal Court holds potential for advancing the rights of women and girls, leading to extensive feminist engagement with and investment in the Court. As the ICC enters its second decade of existence, this article offers a reflection on both the possibilities and the challenges facing feminists. Can the international criminal law really offer a site for enhancing the rights of women? And if so, how? To explore these questions I (...) focus on the interaction between feminist activism and international criminal law institutions in relation to crimes of sexual and gender-based violence. I argue that some of the feminist strategies deployed to get sexual violence onto the international agenda have resulted in perverse outcomes. This should lead us to greater critical reflection regarding how international law conceives of sexual violence and direct our future engagements with international legal institutions. In particular feminist activists and scholars need to move away from focusing on the number of prosecutions towards challenging the international criminal law to characterise the nature of the harm in accordance with a recognition of sexual rights. (shrink)
The Grammar of Criminal Law is a 3-volume work that addresses the field of international and comparative criminal law, with its primary focus on the issues of international concern, ranging from genocide, to domestic efforts to combat terrorism, to torture, and to other international crimes. The first volume is devoted to foundational issues. The Grammar of Criminal Law is unique in its systematic emphasis on the relationship between language and legal theory; there is no comparable comparative study (...) of legal language. Written in the spirit of Fletcher's classic Rethinking Criminal Law, this work is essential reading in the field of international and comparative law. (shrink)
Written by leading philosophers and lawyers from the United States and the United Kingdom, this collection of original essays offers new insights into the doctrines that make up the general part of the criminal law. It sheds theoretical light on the diversity and unity of the general part and advances our understanding of such key issues as criminalisation, omissions, voluntary actions, knowledge, belief, reckelssness, duress, self-defence, entrapment and officially-induced mistake of law.
In this article I examine one condition a minimalist theory of criminalization might contain: the criminal law should be used only as a last resort. I discuss how this principle should be interpreted and the reasons we have to accept it. I conclude that a theory of criminalization should probably include the (appropriately construed) last resort principle. But this conclusion will prove disappointing to those who hope to employ this principle to bring about fundamental reform in the substantive (...) class='Hi'>criminal law. I argue that the last resort principle may not help to reverse the growth of the criminal law to any degree that could not be achieved more directly and less controversially by other principles that a theory of criminalization is generally thought to include. Unless we reject others parts of conventional wisdom about crime and punishment, the application of a last resort principle is unlikely to bring about sweeping changes that theorists might have anticipated. (shrink)
How are we to understand criminal law reform? The idea seems simpleâthe criminal law on the books is wrong: it should be changed. But 'wrongâ how? By what norms 'wrongâ? As soon as one tries to answer those questions, the issue becomes more complex. One kind of answer is that the criminal law is substantively wrong: that is, we assume valid norms of background political morality, and we argue that doctrinally the criminal law on the books (...) does not embody those norms. Another kind of answer is that the criminal law as it stands presupposes certain empirical facts, and yet those facts do not hold. Traditionally, criminal law reform has been informed by both these answers. Analytical theorists examine doctrine for its conceptual structure, and social scientists examine the actual workings of the criminal justice system. This tidy picture is, however, challenged by social constructivist accounts of the criminal law. They challenge the stability and conceptual purity of doctrine, and they challenge the objectivity of social science. On the basis of these challenges, they undermine the ambitions of traditional criminal law reform, and argue that the only reforms to the criminal law that matter are politicized onesâthat criminal law reform is pointless unless it serves the interests of the marginalized and the dispossessed. It seems undeniable that in some sense our perceptions of crime in our society are indeed moulded by social forces, and that crime does not exist independently of the social structures and processes that help to define and control it. But why should those insights have the implications for our understanding of criminal law reform that they are alleged to have? How could it follow from those insights that criminal law reform either becomes radicalized or valueless? The aim of this paper is to show that what can legitimately be taken from the emphasis on the social constructedness of crime does not require wholesale abandonment of the traditional picture of criminal law reform, even though it may require some modifications of that picture. (shrink)
This article considers and criticizes criminal law‘s assumption of the moral autonomy of individuals, showing how that view rests on questionable and obscure Kantian commitments about the self, and proposes a naturalistic alternative developed through a synthetic reading of Adorno‘s and Bhaskar‘s account of the subject in relation to nature and society. As an embodied, emergent, changing subject whose practically rational powers are emergent, polymorphous, and contingent, the subject‘s moral autonomy is dependent on the conditions for experiences of solidarity (...) in four-planar nature. This view makes criminal theory‘s Autonomy Assumption look deeply questionable; autonomy must be a complex, nuanced open question, not an abstract, a priori default assumption. (shrink)
In the last two decades, the philosophy of criminal law has undergone a vibrant revival in Canada. The adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has given the Supreme Court of Canada unprecedented latitude to engage with principles of legal, moral, and political philosophy when elaborating its criminal law jurisprudence. Canadian scholars have followed suit by paying increased attention to the philosophical foundations of domestic criminal law. Because of Canada's leadership in international criminal law, both (...) at the level of the International Criminal Court and of specific war crimes tribunals, they have also begun to turn their attention to international criminal law per se. This collection seeks to bring all these Canadian voices together for the first time, and evidence the fact that criminal law theory is no longer to be associated exclusively with the older British, German and American traditions. The topics covered include questions of philosophical methodology, the legitimate scope of domestic and international criminalization, rationales for criminal law defences in both domestic and international law, the philosophical underpinnings of specific crimes and forms of joint responsibility, as well as the theorization of criminal procedure and evidence law. ENDORSEMENTS "In continental Europe, academic commentary on the criminal law has long manifested large philosophical ambitions. Less so in common-law countries, where the dominance of jury trial and the piecemeal development of case-law, together with the famously robust attitudes of common lawyers, have militated against detailed philosophical engagement with doctrine. Over the last 20 years or so, however, new generations of philosophically-literate lawyers and legally-informed philosophers have overcome the historic resistance. Nowhere more so, it seems, than in Canada, where the common law and civilian traditions meet. In 'Rethinking Criminal Law Theory', François Tanguay-Renaud and James Stribopoulos have joined with 14 talented Canadian colleagues to showcase the tremendous breadth and depth of their contemporary national contribution to the subject. Ranging across topics as diverse as emergency, obscenity, and insanity, these essays - without exception insightful and penetrating -set a high standard for the rest of us to aspire to.'' John Gardner, University of Oxford "'Rethinking Criminal Law Theory' is an excellent collection of essays demonstrating the vigour, creativity and range of Canadian criminal justice scholarship. It covers a wide range of problems and issues both in the domestic and the international context. Core questions are examined in depth and new questions are brought to the fore. I recommend it very highly to criminal lawyers and philosophers of the criminal law." Professor Victor Tadros, University of Warwick "'Rethinking Criminal Law Theory 'is packed with outstanding contributions from criminal law theorists who are among the best not only in Canada, but in the whole English-speaking world. Broad and deep in its coverage, the collection offers fresh approaches to a wide range of cutting-edge issues in the field. It provides a resource readers will come back to repeatedly." Stuart Green, Professor of Law and Justice Nathan L Jacobs Scholar, Rutgers University. (shrink)
The McNaughton rules for determining whether a person can be successfully defended on the grounds of mental incompetence were determined by a committee of the House of Lords in 1843. They arose as a consequence of the trial of Daniel McNaughton for the killing of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s secretary. In retrospect it is clear that McNaughton suffered from schizophrenia. The successful defence of McNaughton on the grounds of mental incompetence by his advocate Sir Alexander Cockburn involved a profound (...) shift in the criteria for such a defence, and was largely based on the then recently published scientific thesis of the great US psychiatrist Isaac Ray, entitled A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity. Subsequent discussion of this defence in the House of Lords led to the McNaughton rules, still the basis of the defence of mental incompetence in the courts of much of the English-speaking world. This essay considers one of these rules in the light of the discoveries of cognitive neuroscience made during the 160 years since Ray’s treatise. A major consideration is the relationship between the power of self-control and irresistible impulse as conceived by Cockburn on the one hand, and by cognitive neuroscience on the other. The essay concludes with an analysis of the notion of free will and of the extent to which a subject can exert restraint in the absence of particular synaptic connections in the brain. (shrink)
American criminal law is committed to some version of the doctrine of double effect. In this paper, I defend a new variant of the agent-centered rationale for a version of DDE that is of particular relevance to the criminal law. In particular, I argue for a non-absolute version of DDE that concerns the relative culpability of intending a bad or wrongful state of affairs as opposed to bringing it about merely knowingly. My aim is to identify a particular (...) feature of the former in virtue of which it is pro tanto more culpable than the latter. Providing an agent-centered argument of this kind for a culpability version of DDE, I argue, is an especially attractive route to take for those who are interested in vindicating the way the criminal law actually encodes DDE. (shrink)
Recent years have seen mounting challenge to the model of the criminal trial on the grounds it is not cost-effective, not preventive, not necessary, not appropriate, or not effective. These challenges have led to changes in the scope of the criminal law, in criminal procedure, and in the nature and use of criminal trials. These changes include greater use of diversion, of fixed penalties, of summary trials, of hybrid civilâcriminal processes, of strict liability, of incentives (...) to plead guilty, and of preventive orders. The paper will assess the implications of these changes for the function of the criminal law, assessing the reasons behind them, and examining whether or not they are to be welcomed. Identifying the larger import of these changes draws attention to the changing relationship between state and citizen as well as changes in the nature of the state itself. These can in turn be attributed to a jostling among the different manifestations of the authoritarian state, the preventive state, and the regulatory state. These changes have profound normative implications for a liberal theory of the criminal law that require its re-articulation and its defence. A modest start may be to insist that where the conduct is criminal and the consequences are punitive the protections of criminal procedure and trial must be upheld. (shrink)
This volume collects 17 of Douglas Husak's influential essays in criminal law theory. The essays span Husak's original and provocative contributions to the central topics in the field, including the grounds of criminal liability, relative culpability, the role of defences, and the justification of punishment. The volume includes an extended introduction by the author, drawing together the themes of his work, and exploring the goals of criminal theory.
The essays in Waldron’s Torture, Terror, and Trade-Offs have important implications for debates about the criminalization of terrorism and terrorism-related offences and its consequences for criminal law and criminal justice. His reflections on security speak directly to contemporary debates about the preventive role of the criminal law. And his analysis of inter-personal security trade-offs invites much closer attention to the costs of counter-terrorism policies, particularly those pursued outside the criminal process. But is Waldron right to speak (...) of a ‘welcome the return to the criminal justice model’? This article considers the arguments in favour of prioritizing the prosecution of terrorist suspects and asks if their prosecution can safely proceed without undue hazard to the criminal law and criminal process. (shrink)
The goal of improving public health involves the use of different tools, with the law being one way to influence the activities of institutions and individuals. Of the regulatory mechanisms afforded by law to achieve this end, criminal law remains a perennial mechanism to delimit the scope of individual and group conduct. However, criminal law may promote or hinder public health goals, and its use raises a number of complex questions that merit exploration. This examination of the interface (...) between criminal law and public health brings together international experts from a variety of disciplines, including law, criminology, public health, philosophy and health policy, in order to examine the theoretical and practical implications of using criminal law to improve public health. (shrink)
The article addresses the argument, put forward by Lernestedt, that the proprietor of the ‘criminal-law conflict’ is the community (or the community and the offender) and discusses his proposed theoretical model of criminal law trial. I raise questions regarding the legitimacy of such a model, focusing on four counts. Firstly, I assert that his assumptions about the state the individual and the old/new versions of criminal law theory are society-dependent. Secondly, I address some problems with the concept (...) of community and particularly with the proposed conception of community, which seems to mostly exclude the offender. Thirdly, I question the need for (or added value of) such a proposed conceptual involvement of the community as an actor in the criminal law process and theory. Lastly, some potential problems with the idea of the victim as a mere “representative of us” are mentioned, including the possibly undesirable demands and limitations on the victim’s agency and issues of respect for the victim’s individuality. (shrink)
Having a criminal justice system that imposes sanctions no doubt does deter criminal conduct. But available social science research suggests that manipulating criminal law rules within that system to achieve heightened deterrence effects generally will be ineffective. Potential offenders often do not know of the legal rules. Even if they do, they frequently are unable to bring this knowledge to bear in guiding their conduct, due to a variety of situational, social, or chemical factors. Even if they (...) can, a rational analysis commonly puts the perceived benefits of crime greater than its perceived costs, due to a variety of criminal justice realities such as low punishment rates. These conclusions are reinforced by studies of crime rates following rule changes. Many show no change in deterrent effect. Those that purport to show a deterrent effect commonly have persuasive non-deterrence explanations, such as a change in incapacitative effect. The few studies that segregate deterrent and incapacitative effects tend to reinforce the conclusion that rule formulation has a deterrent effect only in those unusual situations in which the preconditions to deterrence exist. Even there, the deterrent effects are quite minor and unpredictable, hence inadequate grounds to influence criminal law rule making. (shrink)
Beginning with the premise that the principal function of a criminal trial is to find out the truth about a crime, Larry Laudan examines the rules of evidence and procedure that would be appropriate if the discovery of the truth were, as higher courts routinely claim, the overriding aim of the criminal justice system. Laudan mounts a systematic critique of existing rules and procedures that are obstacles to that quest. He also examines issues of error distribution by offering (...) the first integrated analysis of the various mechanisms - the standard of proof, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof - for implementing society's view about the relative importance of the errors that can occur in a trial. (shrink)
Imagine the following. You have been asked to critically evaluate the criminal process in your home jurisdiction. In particular, you have been asked to determine whether the criminal process currently in place appropriately balances the need to maximize the chances of getting things right—of acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty—with the need to minimize the chances of getting things wrong—of acquitting the guilty and convicting the innocent. How would you proceed? What rules of evidence and procedure would (...) you put in place? Would you exclude germane inculpatory evidence that has been obtained in violation of the accused’s constitutional rights? Would you permit spouses to testify against each other, or allow the jury to draw adverse inferences from an accused’s failure to testify on his or her behalf? These are the sorts of epistemological issues addressed by Larry Laudan in his superb Truth, Error, and Criminal Law. The purpose of legal epistemology is to identify legal rules in order to assess them rationally, and, if necessary, to modify or replace them. The more and more widely Truth, Error, and Criminal Law is read, the more likely it is that legal epistemology will attract the attention of lawyers, legal academics, and philosophers, attention that can only contribute in a positive way to rethinking criminal law. (shrink)
The wrongness of rape -- Rationality and the rule of law in offences against the person -- Complicity and causality -- In defence of defences -- Justifications and reasons -- The gist of excuses -- Fletcher on offences and defences -- Provocation and pluralism -- The mark of responsibility -- The functions and justifications of criminal law and punishment -- Crime : in proportion and in perspective -- Reply to critics.
This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organised around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they deserve. Larry Alexander and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan argue that desert is a function of the actor's culpability, and that culpability is a function of the risks of harm to protected interests that the actor believes he is imposing and his reasons for acting in (...) the face of those risks. The authors deny that resultant harms, as well as unperceived risks, affect the actor's desert. They thus reject punishment for inadvertent negligence as well as for intentions or preparatory acts that are not risky. Alexander and Ferzan discuss the reasons for imposing risks that negate or mitigate culpability, the individuation of crimes, and omissions. (shrink)
This contribution aims to explain how European Criminal Law can be understood as constitutive of European identity. Instead of starting from European identity as a given, it provides a philosophical analysis of the construction of self-identity in relation to criminal law and legal tradition. The argument will be that the self-identity of those that share jurisdiction depends on and nourishes the legal tradition they adhere to and develop, while criminal jurisdiction is of crucial importance in this process (...) of mutual constitution. This analysis will be complemented with a discussion of the integration of the first and the third pillar as aimed for by the Constitutional Treaty, which would bring criminal law under majority rule and European democratic control. Attention will be paid to two ground breaking judgements of the European Court of Justice that seem to boil down to the fact that the Court actually manages to achieve some of the objectives of the CT even if this is not in force. This gives rise to a discussion of how the CT may transform European criminal law in the Union to EU criminal law of the Union, thus producing an identity of the Union next to the identities prevalent in the Union. The contribution concludes with some normative questions about the kind of European identity we should aim to establish, given the fact that such identity will arise with further integration of criminal law into the first pillar. (shrink)
Criminal law exceptionalism, or so I suggest, has turned into an ideology in German and Continental criminal law theory. It rests on interrelated claims about the extraordinary qualities and properties of the criminal law and has led to exceptional doctrines in constitutional criminal law and criminal law theory. It prima facie paradoxically perpetuates and conserves the criminal law, and all too often leads to ideological thoughtlessness, which may blind us to the dark sides of (...)criminal laws in action. (shrink)
This is a review of Larry Alexander and Kim Ferzan’s Reflections on Crime and Culpability, a sequel to the authors’ Crime and Culpability. The two books set out a sweeping proposal for reforming our criminal law in ways that are at once commonsensical and mindbogglingly radical. But even if one is not on board with such a radical experiment, simply thinking it through holds many unexpected lessons: startlingly new insights about the current regime and about novel ways of doing (...) legal theory, some of which are explored in this essay. (shrink)
Following are two short contributions to the book, _Criminal Law Conversations_: commentaries on Paul Robinson's discussion of "Empirical Desert" and Antony Duff & Sandra Marshal's discussion of the sharing of wrongs.
In Ignorance of Law, Doug Husak defends a version of legal moralism on which ‘we should recognize a presumption that the criminal law should…be based, on conform to, or mirror critical morality’. Here I explore whether substantive criminal law rules should directly mirror not moral blameworthiness, but a distinct legal notion of criminal culpability – akin to moral blameworthiness but refined for deployment in legal systems. Contra Husak, I argue that the criminal law departing from the (...) moral ideal embodied in the standard of moral blameworthiness is not always to be regretted. After showing how criminal culpability might come apart from moral blameworthiness, I argue that my alternative to Husak’s view has practically interesting upshots. In particular, it allows us to resist Husak’s central conclusions about the exculpatory force of normative ignorance. There are good reasons for the criminal law to make certain charitable presumptions about citizens as competent agents, which the standard of moral blameworthiness needn’t similarly embody, and this calls into question Husak’s argument for the claim that normative ignorance exculpates. (shrink)
As a practising lawyer and judge, it is the insights gained from Stephen's own experience that give an added practical dimension to this work. As well as his accounts of the history of the branches of the law, Stephen gives several fascinating analyses of famous trials, and explores the relation of madness to crime and the relation of law to ethics, physiology, and mental philosophy. His discussion also includes the subjects of criminal responsibility, offences against the state, the (...) class='Hi'>criminal jurisdiction of the Privy Council, libel, Indian criminal law and offences against religion. (shrink)
The traditional distinction between retributive and distributive justice misconstrues the place of the criminal law in modern regulatory states. In the context of the regulatory state, the criminal law is a coercive rule-enforcing institution – regardless of whether it also serves the ends of retributive justice. As a rule-enforcing institution, the criminal law is deeply implicated in stabilizing the institutions and legal rules by means of which a state creates and allocates social advantage. As a coercive institution, (...) the criminal law requires justification as an instance of legitimate state authority. The operation of criminal justice institutions should therefore not be evaluated by reference to a distinct set of criteria, but should be evaluated by the same criteria that apply to coercive public institutions generally. (shrink)
International Criminal Law and Philosophy is the first anthology to bring together legal and philosophical theorists to examine the normative and conceptual foundations of international criminal law. In particular, through these essays the international group of authors addresses questions of state sovereignty; of groups, rather than individuals, as perpetrators and victims of international crimes; of international criminal law and the promotion of human rights and social justice; and of what comes after international criminal prosecutions, namely, punishment (...) and reconciliation. International criminal law is still an emerging field, and as it continues to develop, the elucidation of clear, consistent theoretical groundings for its practices will be crucial. The questions raised and issues addressed by the essays in this volume will aid in this important endeavor. (shrink)
This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.
The Criminalization series arose from an interdisciplinary investigation into criminalization, focussing on the principles that might guide decisions about what kinds of conduct should be criminalized, and the forms that criminalization should take. Developing a normative theory of criminalization, the series tackles the key questions at the heart of the issue: what principles and goals should guide legislators in deciding what to criminalize? How should criminal wrongs be classified and differentiated? How should law enforcement officials apply the law's specifications (...) of offences?This, the fifth book in the series, offers a historical and conceptual account of the development of the modern criminal law in England and as it has spread to common law jurisdictions around the world. The book offers a historical perspective on the development of theories of criminalization. It shows how the emergence of theories of criminalization is inextricably linked to modern understandings of the criminal law as a conceptually distinct body of rules, and how this in turn has been shaped by the changing functions of criminal law as an instrument of government in the modern state.The book is structured in two main parts. The first traces the development of the modern law as a distinct, and conceptually distinct body of rules, looking in particular at ideas of jurisdiction, codification and responsibility. The second part then engages in detailed analysis of specific areas of criminal law, focusing on patterns of criminalization in relation to property, the person, and sexual conduct. (shrink)
In public health and the social sciences, there is growing recognition of the role that social context plays in determining health. Frequently, social relations of inequality are among the most important features of social context identified in this work, and emphasis is placed on identifying and addressing these inequalities in order to improve health. Within the field of HIV/AIDS prevention as well, researchers have begun to look beyond individuals for an understanding of the structural causes of HIV-related risk. This research (...) demands that greater attention be paid to the social mechanisms and contextual factors that lead to HIV risk. Among these factors are law and social policy, which form a part of the context in which risk-taking occurs and which can promote both HIV transmission and prevention. On the one hand, laws limiting access to sterile injection equipment have contributed to HIV-related risk behavioxs among injection drug users. (shrink)
Through a theoretical examination of the preventive turn in criminal law and justice which has gained momentum in Anglo-American criminal justice systems since the late-twentieth century, The Preventive Turn in Criminal Law demonstrates how recent transformations in criminal law and justiceare intrinsically related to and embedded in the way liberal society and liberal law have been imagined, developed, and conditioned by its social, political, and historical context. Henrique Carvalho identifies a tension between the idea of punishment (...) as an expression of individual justice, andprevention as a manifestation of the need for security and the promotion of welfare. Tracing this tension back to an intrinsic ambivalence within the modern conception of individual liberty, which is both repressed and preserved by liberal conceptions of responsibility and punishment, Carvalhoproves that as long as this ambivalence remains unexamined, liberal law has the potential to both promote and undermine individual justice.Engaging with the dominant contemporary literature on criminal law, prevention, risk, security, and criminalisation, this volume deploys a theoretical perspective developed through a critical analysis of both classical and contemporary works of social and political theory. The book reveals that thepervasiveness of prevention in 21st century criminal justice systems represents not only the consequence of new and unprecedented features of contemporary politics and society, but also the manifestation of essential aspects of the liberal legal and political tradition. (shrink)
What place, if any, ought cultural considerations have when we blame and punish in the criminal law? Bringing together political and legal theorists Criminal Law and Cultural Diversity offers original and diverse discussions that go to the heart of both legal and political debates about multiculturalism, human agency, and responsibility.
In this long-awaited book, Antony Duff offers a new perspective on the structures of criminal law and criminal liability. His starting point is a distinction between responsibility (understood as answerability) and liability, and a conception of responsibility as relational and practice-based. This focus on responsibility, as a matter of being answerable to those who have the standing to call one to account, throws new light on a range of questions in criminal law theory: on the question of (...) criminalisation, which can now be cast as the question of what we should have to answer for, and to whom, under the threat of criminal conviction and punishment; on questions about the criminal trial, as a process through which defendants are called to answer, and about the conditions (bars to trial) given which a trial would be illegitimate; on questions about the structure of offences, the distinction between offences and defences, and the phenomena of strict liability and strict responsibility; and on questions about the structures of criminal defences. The net result is not a theory of criminal law; but it is an account of the structure of criminal law as an institution through which a liberal polity defines a realm of public wrongdoing, and calls those who perpetrate (or are accused of perpetrating) such wrongs to account. (shrink)
What distinguishes “criminal law” from all other law? This question should be central to both criminal law theory and criminal justice reform. Clarity about the distinctive feature of criminal law is especially important in the current moment, as the nation awakens to the damage that the carceral state has wrought and reformers debate the value and the future of criminal law institutions. Foundational though it is, however, the question has received limited attention. There is no (...) clear consensus among contemporary scholars or reformers about what makes the criminal law unique. This Essay argues that Antony Duff’s The Realm of Criminal Law offers an answer—and that the answer is correct. Duff rightly diagnoses criminal law as unique by virtue of the fact that it censures particular acts in the polity’s name. It is a mechanism of collective condemnation. The Essay advocates recognition of this concept of criminal law and draws out implications for both criminal law theory and criminal law reform. (shrink)
Retributivism so dominates criminal theory that lawyers, legal scholars and law students assert with complete confidence that criminal law is justified only in light of violations of another person’s rights. Yet the core tenet of retributivism views criminal law fundamentally through the lens of individual actors, rendering both offender and victim unrecognizably denuded from their social and civic context. Doing so means that retributivism is unable to explain even our most basic criminal law practices, such as (...) why we punish recidivists more than first time offenders or why “hate crimes” are of special concern. A republican view of criminal law brings our most natural intuitions back into focus by insisting that the core of criminal responsibility lies in the offender’s attack on the civic bonds that make living in a society as equals possible. By grounding our punishment practices in an Aristotelian republicanism that for so long was the unquestioned basis of mutual responsibility, we understand that hostility, as expressed in the offender’s “civic character,” matters to us all while still seeing our obligations to reintegrate both victim and offender into our shared civic project. (shrink)
Could it be right to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and explain why it would be wrong. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish defendants using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems we know what we should do in such cases (i.e., maximize expected value). (...) Given some standard assumptions about the values at stake, the case for convicting and punishing using statistical evidence seems solid. In trying to show where this argument goes wrong, I shall argue (against Lockeans, reliabilists, and others) that beliefs supported only by statistical evidence are epistemically defective and (against Enoch, Fisher, and Spectre) that these epistemic considerations should matter to the law. To solve the puzzle about the role of statistical evidence in the law, we need to revise some commonly held assumptions about epistemic value and defend the relevance of epistemology to this practical question. (shrink)
In this paper we introduce the nascent literature on Moral Uncertainty Theory and explore its application to the criminal law. Moral Uncertainty Theory seeks to address the question of what we ought to do when we are uncertain about what to do because we are torn between rival moral theories. For instance, we may have some credence in one theory that tells us to do A but also in another that tells us to do B. We examine how we (...) might decide whether or not to criminalize some conduct when we are unsure as to whether or not the conduct is morally permitted, and whether or not it is permissible to criminalize the conduct. We also look at how we might make sentencing decisions under moral uncertainty. We argue that Moral Uncertainty Theory can be an illuminating way to address these questions, but find that doing so is a lot more complicated than applying Moral Uncertainty Theory to individual conduct. (shrink)
This paper is about how best to understand the notion of ‘public wrongs’ in the longstanding idea that crimes are public wrongs. By contrasting criminal law with the civil laws of torts and contracts, it argues that ‘public wrongs’ should not be understood merely as wrongs that properly concern the public, but more specifically as those which the state, as the public, ought to punish. It then briefly considers the implications that this has on criminalization.