Legalizing Blame I: the Quest for the General Part


in Punishment, Responsibility, and Justice

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780198259565
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191710636 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

Legalizing Blame I: the Quest for the General Part

Show Summary Details


In considering the criminal law, there is no more fundamental question than what constitutes its basic structure. In the dominant view, the law is divided into general and special parts, and the former, though there is disagreement about its precise character, into questions of mens rea, actus reus, justification, and excuse. This chapter focuses on these four terms and argues that criminal justice thinking needs, but cannot sustain, a distinction between offence and defence. Specifically, this chapter discusses the ‘quest for the general part’ initiated by George Fletcher and pursued by a number of criminal justice thinkers thereafter. The chapter also examines the debate about dualism or tripartism among criminal lawyers like Glanville Williams, J. C Smith, and B. Hogan, along with John Gardner's account of what it means to be morally justified in one's actions and Fletcher's seminal analysis of the general part.

Keywords: John Gardner; criminal law; defence; offence; justification; excuse; general part; George Fletcher; dualism; tripartism

Chapter.  12638 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.