Harm and Culpability

By A. P. Simester; A. T. H. Smith | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Criminalization and the Role of Theory

A. P. Simester and A. T. H. Smith*

Criminal law scholarship tends too often to be conducted exclusively as either traditional blackletter law, as high moral philosophy, or (thirdly) as an exercise in socio-legal or law-in-context theorizing. Yet it is a mistake to think that arguments about the criminal law can be propounded exclusively within any one of these domains, for even the most specific problems can generate especially difficult theoretical questions. Those who seek to formulate and influence the formulation of criminal law will encounter such questions, whether they are attempting to determine the scope of a particular actus reus, such as blackmail, or the general criteria of attempts liability. Their responses, like the essays in this volume, must frequently seek the assistance of philosophy.


Perhaps one of the causes of that severance in approaches is the possibility of different types of legal analysis. 'No conviction without blame', say many of our authors. We agree. Yet what sort of claim are we recognizing? The alternative understandings of that proposition correspond to differing theoretical standpoints from which one may approach the analysis of criminal law -- whether as descriptive, explanatory, or evaluative inquiries. A legal commentator might choose to give a description of the rules which make up the criminal law ('in fact, there is no conviction without blame'), and to a varying extent this is one of the central functions of textbooks; to state what the law is. Such an ambition is not to be belittled. A well-crafted descriptive account that draws together divergent legal strands may make a major contribution to an increased understanding and a more predictable administra

We are grateful to the contributors for feedback regarding earlier drafts of this essay, and in particular to Antony Duff, John Gardner, Peter Glazebrook, Bob Sullivan, and Andrew von Hirsch for their detailed comments.


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
Harm and Culpability


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
/ 280

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?