This classic collection of essays, first published in 1968, represents H.L.A. Hart's landmark contribution to the philosophy of criminal responsibility and punishment. Unavailable for ten years, this new edition reproduces the original text, adding a new critical introduction by John Gardner, a leading contemporary criminal law theorist.
In his introduction to these closely linked essays Professor Hart offers both an exposition and a critical assessment of some central issues in jurisprudence and political theory. Some of the essays touch on themes to which little attention has been paid, such as Bentham's identification of the forms of mysitification protecting the law from criticism; his relation to Beccaria; and his conversion to democratic radicalism and a passionate admiration for the United States.
This incisive book deals with the use of the criminal law to enforce morality, in particular sexual morality, a subject of particular interest and importance since the publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957. Professor Hart first considers John Stuart Mill's famous declaration: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community is to prevent harm to others." During the last hundred years this doctrine has twice been sharply challenged by two great (...) lawyers: Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, the great Victorian judge and historian of the common law, and Lord Devlin, who both argue that the use of the criminal law to enforce morality is justified. The author examines their arguments in some detail, and sets out to demonstrate that they fail to recognize distinction of vital importance for legal and political theory, and that they espouse a conception of the function of legal punishment that few would now share. (shrink)
In this field questions arise which are certainly difficult; but as I listened last time to members of the group, I felt that the main difficulty perhaps lay in determining precisely what questions we are trying to answer. I have the conviction that if we could only say clearly what the questions are, the answers to them might not appear so elusive. So I have begun with a simple list of questions about discretion which in one form or another were, (...) as it seemed to me, expressed by the group last time. I may indeed have omitted something and inserted something useless: if so, no doubt I shall be informed of this later. The central questions then seem to me to be the following: 1. What is discretion, or what is the exercise of discretion? 2. Under what conditions and why do we in fact accept or tolerate discretion in a legal system? 3. Must we accept discretion or tolerate discretion, and if so, why? 4. What values does the use of discretion menace, and what values does it maintain or promote? 5. What can be done to maximize the beneficial operation of the use of discretion and to minimize any harm that it does? (shrink)
In the two related works in this volume, Bentham offers a detailed critique of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. He provides important refelctions on the nature of law, and more particularly on the nature of customary and statute law, and on judicial interpretation.
This is a collection of essays on themes of legal philosophy which have all been generated or affected by Hart's work. The topics covered include legal theory, responsibility, and enforcement of morals, with contributions from Ronald Dworkin, Rolf Sartorius, Neil MacCormach, David Lyons, Kent Greenawalt, Michael Moore, Joseph Raz, and C.L. Ten, among others.