The Handbook of Comparative Criminal Law

By Kevin Jon Heller; Markus D. Dubber | Go to book overview
Save to active project

INTRODUCTION: comparative criminal law

Kevin Jon Heller and Markus D. Dubber

The comparative analysis of criminal law can do many things for many people. For the legislator, it can be a source of possible approaches to a specific issue or even to the enterprise of criminal law reform and criminal lawmaking in general. For the judge, it can suggest different solutions to tricky problems of interpretation or common-law adjudication. The theorist can mine the vast stock of principles and rules, of structures and categories, and of questions and answers that can be found in the world’s criminal law systems. And the teacher, too, can draw on the positive manifestation of different, or not-sodifferent, approaches to particular or general questions of criminal law to challenge students’ ability to comprehend, to formulate, and eventually to critically analyze black-letter rules that are all too oft en presented by judicial— or, occasionally, professorial— oracles of law as the manifestations of inexorable logic or, at least, of stare decisis.1

Oddly, it is precisely this critical potential that may well account for the fact that the comparative study of criminal law traditionally has been neglected. In fact, if not in theory, Anglo-American criminal law continues to be regarded as an exercise of the police power of the state, where the power to police is thought to be closely related, even essential, to the very idea of sovereignty. More particularly, the police power is the modern manifestation at the state level of the deeply rooted power of the house holder (oikonomos, paterfamilias) over his house hold (oikos, familia).2 In Blackstone’s memorable phrase, “public police or oeconomy” is “the due regulation and domestic order of the kingdom: whereby the individuals of the state, like members of a well-governed family, are bound to

Kevin Jon Heller is a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School. His recent publications include “The Cognitive Psychology of Mens Rea,” 99 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 317 (2009), and “Mistake of Legal Element, the Common Law, and Article 32 of the Rome Statute: A Critical Analysis,” 6 Journal of International Criminal Justice 419 (2008).

Markus D. Dubber is Professor of Law at the University of Toronto. His recent publications include The Police Power: Patriarchy and the Foundations of American Government (Columbia University Press, 2005) and The Sense of Justice: Empathy in Law and Punishment (New York University Press, 2006).


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Handbook of Comparative Criminal Law


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 660

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?