Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law

Overview

John Gardner's writings on the theory of criminal law have had a significant impact on the way that this subject is understood by academic lawyers and philosophers. This book collects together a thematic selection of his most widely read and widely cited pieces.

Theoretical writings on the criminal law have often been dominated by a preoccupation with the justification of criminal punishment. This work is different. Although it discusses the legitimacy of criminal punishment it ...

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Overview

John Gardner's writings on the theory of criminal law have had a significant impact on the way that this subject is understood by academic lawyers and philosophers. This book collects together a thematic selection of his most widely read and widely cited pieces.

Theoretical writings on the criminal law have often been dominated by a preoccupation with the justification of criminal punishment. This work is different. Although it discusses the legitimacy of criminal punishment it proceeds on the footing that the criminal law does many important things apart from punishing people. In particular, Gardner argues that the criminal law provides an important forum for people to explain themselves. Such a forum would be important, argues Gardner, even if criminal punishment were to be abolished.

John Gardner tackles persistent and troublesome questions about the philosophical foundations of criminal law. Which wrongs are suitable to be crimes and why? What are the conditions of criminal responsibility, and how do they relate to the conditions of moral responsibility? What does it take to be complicit in another's wrongdoing? Should crimes ever be excused, and if so on what basis? How, if at all, should the criminal law adapt to conditions of social and cultural diversity?

The issues raised in these essays have a significance extending beyond the law. What does it mean to be a responsible agent, and why does it matter? Is my moral character only or mostly my own business? Is there a difference between being reasonable and being rational? These and many other moral problems lurk in the background of the criminal law, and the pieces in this book bring them into the foreground.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Each essay is written superbly written. Reading them is the opposite of the everyday academic experience. Instead of a struggle to finish, succeeded mercifully by instant amnesia, they can be read quickly-yet one mulls the details for days...The essays are packed with valuable insights and boast an impressive range of reference" —A.P. Simester, University of Cambridge, The Modern Law Review

"The essays in this book invariably challenge and reward the reader each time she returns to them. This is an important volume that collects together what no doubt will be enduring pieces in the philosophy of criminal law." —Kimberley Brownlee, Ethics, 2009

"Without exception, each essay is finely written and distinctive in content." —Robert Sullivan, Law Quarterly Review, 2009

"A remarkably rich, coherent, and thought-provoking set of arguments that will no doubt join Hart's among the classic starting-points for philosophical inquiry about the criminal law"
—Francois Tanguay-Renaud, York University, Toronto, Canada, Res Publica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199239368
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/30/2008
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gardner is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of University College, Oxford. He has held visiting positions at Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, the Australian National University, the University of Texas, and Princeton University. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals including the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and the Journal of International Criminal Justice. Qualified as a Barrister in England & Wales, he has been a Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple since 2003.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1: The Wrongness of Rape
2: Rationality and the Rule of Law in Offences Against the Person
3: Complicity and Causality
4: In Defence of Defences
5: Justifications and Reasons
6: The Gist of Excuses
7: Fletcher on Offences and Defences
8: Provocation and Pluralism
9: The Mark of Responsibility
10: The Functions and Justifications of Criminal Law and Punishment
11: Crime: in Proportion and in Perspective
12: Reply to Critics
Index
Preface
Acknowledgements
1. The Wrongness of Rape
2. Rationality and the Rule of Law in Offences against the Person
3. Complicity and Causality
4. In Defence of Defences
5. Justifications and Reasons
6. The Gist of Excuses
7. Fletcher on Offences and Defences
8. Provocation and Pluralism
9. The Mark of Responsibility
10. The Functions and Justifications of Criminal Law and Punishment
11. Crime: in Proportion and in Perspective
12. Reply to Critics
Index

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