Lindsay Farmer

in Making the Modern Criminal Law

Published in print January 2016 | ISBN: 9780199568642
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191801945 | DOI:

Series: Criminalization


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  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law


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This chapter examines the development of concepts of responsibility in the criminal law. The first section looks at responsibility as a legal institution, specifically its role in designating subjects with the capacity to respond to legal rules. The second section is a historical account of the development of doctrines of responsibility at specific periods from the late eighteenth century to the present day. This demonstrates the way the meaning of the concept of responsibility shifted from being a means of specifying standards of conduct to becoming a means of judging degrees of liability.. It then goes on to show how the idea of responsibility become more prominent in structuring ideas of criminal culpability and in structuring the criminal law. In the final section, it is argued that the concept of responsibility has not constrained criminalization, as is often argued, but has contributed to the growth of the criminal law.

Keywords: responsibility; Blackstone; Sir James Fitzjames Stephen; Glanville Williams; Andrew Ashworth; malice; subjective liability; punishability; criminalization

Chapter.  20030 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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