Five pre-eminent legal theorists tackle a range of fundamental questions on the nature of the philosophy of criminal law. Their essays explore the extent to which and the ways in which our systems of criminal law can be seen as rational and principled. The essays discuss some of the principles by which, it is often thought, a system of law should be structured, and they ask whether our own systems are genuinely principled or riven by basic contradictions, (...) reflecting deeper political and social conflicts. The volume as a whole shows how lively and exciting contemporary legal theory can be. (shrink)
This work provides, for the first time, a unified account of the theory of action presupposed by both British and American criminal law and its underlying morality. It defends the view that human actions are volitionally caused body movements. This theory illuminates three major problems in drafting and implementing criminal law--what the voluntary act requirement does and should require, what complex descriptions of actions prohibited by criminal codes both do and should require, and when the two actions (...) are the "same" for purposes of assessing whether multiple prosecutions and multiple punishments are warranted. The book contributes to the development of a coherent theory of action in philosophy. It provides a grounding in three of the most basic elements of criminal liability for legislators, judges, and the lawyers who argue to them. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive handbook in the philosophy of criminal law. It contains seventeen original essays by leading thinkers in the field and covers the field's major topics including limits to criminalization, obscenity and hate speech, blackmail, the law of rape, attempts, accomplice liability, causation, responsibility, justification and excuse, duress, provocation and self-defense, insanity, punishment, the death penalty, mercy, and preventive detention and other alternatives to punishment. It will be an invaluable resource for scholars and students whose (...) research and studies concern philosophical issues in criminal law and criminal law theory. (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.
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)
Larry Alexander and Peter Westen each critically examine different topics from my recent collection of essays, The Philosophy of Criminal Law. Alexander focuses on my “Rapes Without Rapists,” “Mistake of Law and Culpability,” and “Already Punished Enough.” Westen offers a more extended commentary on my “Transferred Intent.” I briefly reply to each critic in turn and try to extend the debates in new directions.
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)
The criminal law raises wonderfully thorny foundational questions. Some of these questions are conceptual: What is a plausible conception of crime ? What is a plausible conception of criminal law ? Some of these questions are genealogical: What are the historical and genealogical roots of the criminal law in a particular jurisdiction? Other questions are evaluative: What are the political and moral values on which a given conception of criminal law depends? What kind of rational reconstruction, (...) if any, could the criminal law be given? And, finally, still other questions are exploratory and normative: Should parts of existing criminal law be abandoned? What new topics in criminal law theory need to be addressed in our globalised, technologically savvy world? The contributors to Antony Duff and Stuart P. Green’s collection Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law tackle these questions with zeal and independent spirit. They disagree markedly with each other about what the foundational questions are. And, they disagree about how those questions should be handled. This article charts their disagreements by situating the contributors within two taxonomies. The first groups them according to their approaches to the foundational questions; the second groups them according to their modes of theorising. This double taxonomy provides a useful frame within which to analyse these competing takes on the philosophically foundational work of criminal law theory. (shrink)
In this challenging collection of new essays, leading philosophers and criminal lawyers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada break with the tradition of treating the philosophical foundations of criminal law as an adjunct to the study of punishment. Focusing clearly on the central issues of moral luck, mistake, and mental illness, this volume aims to reorient the study of criminal law. In the process of retrieving valuable material from traditional law classifications, the contributors break (...) down false associations, reveal hidden truths, and establish new patterns of thought. Their always illuminating and sometimes startling conclusions makes this essential reading for all those interested in the philosophy of criminal law. (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)
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.
This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organized around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they ...
Offences and Defences is an outstanding collection of eleven of John Gardner's previously published papers in the philosophy of criminal law. I briefly examine his views on five central issues: his claims about basic responsibility and whether it should be construed as relational; his positions on agent neutrality; his arguments about whether moral and criminal wrongs are typically strict; his thoughts about the structure of defences, and, finally, what his account of rape reveals about the content of (...) the harm principle. (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)
Organ trafficking and trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ transplantation are recognized as significant international problems. Yet these forms of trafficking are largely left out of international criminal law regimes and to some extent of domestic criminal law regimes as well. Trafficking of organs or persons for their organs does not come within the jurisdiction of the ICC, except in very special cases such as when conducted in a manner that conforms to the definitions of genocide (...) or crimes against humanity. Although the United States Code characterizes trafficking as a transnational crime with national implications, (22 U.S.C. Â§ 7101(b)(24) (2010)), trafficking is rarely prosecuted in domestic courts. It has thus functioned in practice largely as what might be judged a stateless offense, out of the purview of both international and national courts. Yet these forms of organ trafficking remain widespreadâand devastating to those who are its victims. In this article, we begin by describing what is known about the extent of organ trafficking and trafficking in persons for the purpose of removal of organs. We then critically evaluate how and why such trafficking has remained largely unaddressed by both international and domestic criminal law regimes. This state of affairs, we argue, presents a missed chance for developing the legitimacy of international criminal law and an illustration of how far current international legal institutions remain from ideal justice. (shrink)
What is the foundation of consent in the criminal law? Classically liberal commentators have offered at least three distinct theories. J.S. Mill contends we value consent because individuals are the best judges of their own interests. Joel Feinberg argues an individual’s consent matters because she has a right to autonomy based on her intrinsic sovereignty over her own life. Joseph Raz also focuses on autonomy, but argues that society values autonomy as a constituent element of individual well-being, which it (...) is the state’s duty to promote. The criminal law’s approach to the problem of non-contemporaneous consent—prospective consent and retrospective consent—casts a unique light on the differences among these three justifications. Peter Westen claims neither Mill’s nor Feinberg’s justifications for consent fully explains how non-contemporaneous consent is treated in the criminal law. Specifically, Mill’s “self-interest” conception explains the criminal law’s limited recognition of prospective consent, but cannot explain its total rejection of retrospective consent. Conversely, Feinberg’s “sovereign autonomy” conception explains why the criminal law rejects retrospective consent, but cannot explain why the law recognizes irrevocable prospective consent only in limited circumstances. I resolve this dilemma by explaining that Raz’s “autonomy is good” conception is consistent with both the criminal law’s limited recognition of irrevocable prospective consent and its total rejection of retrospective consent. This suggests the existing criminal law embodies Raz’s theory that it is the duty of the state to promote morality, in particular the moral good of individual well-being through living autonomously. In contrast, the criminal law’s treatment of consent would have to be modified if it were to reflect Mill’s “self-interest” conception, or Feinberg’s “sovereign autonomy” conception. (shrink)
This paper, originally written for a conference on criminal law in times of emergency, considers the implications of the â€˜German Airliner caseâ€™ for criminal law theory. In that case, the German constitutional court struck down as unconstitutional a law empowering state officials to order the shooting down of a hijacked plane on the grounds that the state could not order the killing of innocent civilians. Some have argued that despite this ruling, individual officials should still be entitled to (...) claim a criminal law justification defence. I argue that the nature of justification defences necessarily ties them to the powers of the state to engage in such activity. I also argue that both the constitutional decision and its criminal law implications are salutary. (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 (TE), 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 (ECJ) 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 (and related judgements of the ECJ) 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)
Current International Criminal Law (‘ICL’) suffers from at least four theoretical shortcomings regarding its ‘concept and meaning’, ‘ius puniendi’ (supranational right to punish), ‘overall function’ and ‘purposes of punishment’ (For clarification of these basic questions, see Ambos in Oxf J Legal Stud 33:293–315, 2013b. Of course, there are many possible conceptualisations of the basic questions facing any theory of criminal law see, for example, Murphy in Columbia Law Rev 87:509–532, 1987. Yet, taking the perspective of ICL, I would (...) argue that these are the most important conceptual questions today.). These issues are intimately interrelated; in particular, any reflection upon the last two issues without having first clarified the ius puniendi would not make sense. As argued elsewhere (Ambos in Oxf J Legal Stud 33:293–315, 2013b), in an initial contribution towards a consistent theory of ICL, the ius puniendi can be inferred from a combination of the incipient supranationality of the value-based world order and the world citizens’ fundamental human rights predicated upon a Kantian concept of human dignity. On this basis, it is now possible to examine the overall function of ICL. Given the fact that ICL has not yet achieved the status of an autonomous discipline, the inquiry must start with a discussion of national theories of criminalisation. The article focuses on the two most important theories of criminalisation, namely the theories of protection of Rechtsgüter (‘legal goods’) and the prevention of harm (see infra second section). Next, it examines whether and how these national theories can be transferred to ICL (see infra third section). (shrink)
The paper argues for attaching a significant role to the dignity of offenders as a limitation on the scope of substantive criminal law. Three different aspects of human dignity are discussed. Human dignity is closely connected with the principle of culpability. Respecting the dignity of offenders requires that we assign criminal liability according to the actual attitudes of the offenders towards the interests protected by the offence. The doctrine of natural and probable consequence of complicity, which allows us (...) to assign liability for mens rea offenses to a negligent offender, violates the dignity of the offender; it treats the incautious offender as if she had willfully expressed disrespect towards the protected interest. The human dignity core of privacy is invaded by criminalizing the private possession of child pornography. By extending the prohibition of the creation, sale and distribution of child pornography to the private possession of pornography, the State attempts to control the way the individual expresses an essential part of the self—his sexual fantasies—within himself. Dignity demands that our actions convey an attitude of respect towards human beings. The expressive meaning of disrespect is culture-dependent. The historical association with totalitarian regimes explains our reluctance to impose a legal duty to report past crime: the individual who is legally required to turn a suspect into the police is viewed as an “informant.”. (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)
By what right, or under whose authority, do you try me? This is a common challenge raised by defendants standing trial in front of international criminal courts or tribunals. The challenge comes from the fact that traditionally criminal law is justified as a response of the state to wrongdoing that has been identified by the state as a crime. Nevertheless, since the early 1990s we have seen the development of international criminal tribunals that have the authority to (...) judge certain crimes. This article examines the moral foundation for the authority of international tribunals, arguing that it can be grounded on delegation of powers from the states with primary jurisdiction. The first part of the article examines whether there is any problem, as a matter of principle, in founding the courts’ jurisdictional authority on delegation of powers. It will argue that contrary to David Luban’s view, there is no inherent problem with states delegating their power to punish to other states or to international tribunals. Nevertheless, in making such a decision the ability of the court to provide fair process—a necessary requirement for the court’s ability to issue authoritative decisions—should be taken into account. The second part of the article takes the ICC as a case study and examines whether its jurisdiction can be grounded on delegation of powers. It will be shown that the court’s jurisdiction can indeed be founded on both direct and indirect delegation of jurisdiction from states with primary jurisdiction. This conclusion suggests that other international tribunals created by either multilateral treaties or by Security Council decisions may also be founded on similar grounds. (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.
In this volume, Feinberg focuses on the meanings of "interest," the relationship between interests and wants, and the distinction between want-regarding and ideal-regarding analyses on interest and hard cases for the applications of the concept of harm. Examples of the "hard cases" are harm to character, vicarious harm, and prenatal and posthumous harm. Feinberg also discusses the relationship between harm and rights, the concept of a victim, and the distinctions of various quantitative dimensions of harm, consent, and offense, including the (...) magnitude, probability, risk, and "importance" of harm. (shrink)
Doug Husak frames a worry that makes sense in the abstract, but in reality, there is not much to worry about. The thesis that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility (IIP) is a straw man. There are reasons to think that the moral significance of intentions is not properly registered in criminal law. But the moral basis for criticism is not nearly as extreme as the IIP, and the fixes are not that hard to make. Lastly, if they are not (...) made, some people may not get the punishments they deserve, and there will be some extra inequities in the criminal law as a result. But these inequities are not so great that change must be made now. The moral categories that are used may be too crude, but they are also familiar and easy to work with, and that counts for something. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to critically discuss the plausibility of legal moralism with an emphasis on some central and recent versions. First, this paper puts forward and defends the thesis that recently developed varieties of legal moralism promoted by Robert P. George, John Kekes and Michael Moore are more plausible than Lord Devlin's traditional account. The main argument for this thesis is that in its more modern versions legal moralism is immune to some of the forceful challenges made (...) to Devlin by Hart, Dworkin and Feinberg among others. Second, however, the paper challenges the new generation of legal moralists and suggests some areas for further development. Although Devlin's position has been scrutinized thoroughly in the literature on the philosophy of law, there has, to my knowledge, been no comparable, systematic critique of these different proponents of legal moralism. (shrink)
This essay proposes a theory of excuse that, without blending it into exculpation, avoids the condonation of crime. The question it takes up is: given that neither compulsion by circumstances nor by human threats removes the legal reason for punishing, how can its exonerating force be rendered compatible with the stateâs general duty to punish the guilty? The chapter criticizes various proposals for reconciling excuse with the duty to punish the guilty, including the moral involuntariness theory, the concession to frailty (...) theory, and the conformity to moral expectation theory. It then proposes a solution: moral blamelessness exonerates because it simulates the conditions for legal exculpation. Just as the exculpated actor acknowledges the legal norm of mutual respect for agents, so does the excused actor acknowledge the public reason of the self-sufficient political community of which the legal norm is a part. The author argues that this theory would excuse the altruistic no less than the self-preferring murderer. (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe presents a ground-breaking work which demonstrates the importance of philosophy of action for the law. Many people are serving sentences not for completing crimes, but for trying to. So the law governing attempted crimes is of practical as well as theoretical importance. Questions arising in the adjudication of attempts intersect with questions in the philosophy of action, such as what intention a person must have, if any, and what a person must do, if anything, to be (...) trying to act. Yaffe offers solutions to the difficult problems courts face in the adjudication of attempted crimes. He argues that the problems courts face admit of principled solution through reflection either on what it is to try to do something; or on what evidence is required for someone to be shown to have tried to do something; or on what sentence for an attempt is fair given the close relation between attempts and completions. The book argues that to try to do something is to be committed by one's intention to each of the components of success and to be guided by those commitments. Recognizing the implications of this simple and plausible position helps us to identify principled grounds on which the courts ought to distinguish between defendants charged with attempted crimes. (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.
After briefly sketching an historical account of criminal law that emphasizes its longstanding reach into social, commercial and personal life outside the core areas of criminal offenses, this paper explores why criminal law theory has never succeeded in limiting the content of criminal codes to offenses that fit the criteria of dominant theories, particularly versions of the harm principle. Early American writers on criminal law endorsed no such limiting principles to criminal law, and early (...) American criminal law consequently was substantively broad. But even with the rise of theories in the mid-nineteenth century that sought to limit criminal lawâs reach, codified offenses continued to widely and deeply regulate social life and exceed the limits of those normative arguments. This essay suggests that this practical failure of criminal law theory occurred because it was never adopted by an institutional actor that could limit offense definitions in accord with normative commitments. Legislatures are institutionally unsuited to having their policy actions limited by principled arguments, and courts passed on the opportunity to incorporate a limiting principle for criminal law once they began, in the Lochner era, actively regulating legislative decisions through Constitutional law. The one avenue through which criminal law theory has had some success in affecting criminal codes is through the influence of specialized bodies that influence legislation, especially the American Law Institute advocacy of the Model Penal Code. But the institutional structure of American criminal law policymaking permits an unusually small role for such specialized bodies, and without such an institutional mechanism, criminal law theory is likely to continue to have little effect on actual criminal codes. (shrink)
Philosophy of Law: An Introduction provides an ideal starting point for students of philosophy and law, assuming no prior knowledge of either subject. The book is structured around the key issues and themes in philosophy of law: * What is the law? - the major legal theories including realism, positivism and natural law * The reach of the law - authority, rights, liberty, privacy and tolerance * Criminal responsibility and punishment - legal defenses, crime, diminished responsibility (...) and theories of punishment. The second edition expands the original focus on mainstream legal theory to look at contemporary critical perspectives such as feminist theories on pornography and freedom of speech, and Foucault's radical approach to criminal responsibility. Philosophy of Law has also been updated to include recent developments such as cases of conjoined twins, and the Human Rights Act. With study questions at the end of each chapter, and a new conclusion assessing both traditional legal theory and the various critical perspectives, this is the ideal textbook for introducing students to the philosophy of law. (shrink)
This article starts from the observation that in classical Athens the discovery of democracy as a normative model of politics has been from the beginning not only a political and a legal but at the same time a philosophical enterprise. Reflections on the concept of criminal law and on the meaning of punishment can greatly benefit from reflections on Athenian democracy as a germ for our contemporary debate on criminal justice in a democracy. Three main characteristics of the (...) Athenian model will be analysed: the self-instituting capacity of a democracy based on participatory and reflective citizenship, political power as the capacity of citizens for co-operating and co-acting with others, and the crime of hubris as one of the key issues in Athenian criminal law. These analyses will lead to the conclusion that one of the key issues of a democratic legal order lies in its capacity of recognizing the fragility of the human condition and of developing workable and effective standards of justice in that context. A relational conception of criminal law and punishment, based on proportionality, reflexivity, mutual respect and responsibility fits best with a democracy under the rule of law. (shrink)