Offences and Defences

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

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John Gardner's writings on the theory of criminal law have had a significant impact on the way that this subject is understood by legal scholars and philosophers. This book collects together a selection of his best-known and most provocative pieces.
John Gardner tackles persistent and troublesome questions about the philosophical foundations of the 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.
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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 17mm | 378g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 0199239363
  • 9780199239368
  • 1,015,274

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
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Review quote

This collection, of eleven of John Gardner's papers in philosophy of criminal law from the last fifteen years, makes clear how distinctive and incisive his contributions have been to our understanding of the structure and proper aims of criminal law, of how criminal offences should be analysed and defined, and of the character and significance of responsibility. It also shows how much criminal law theory depends on, and is enriched by, a serious engagement with
deeper issues in moral and political philosophy (which is one reason why the collection should interest moral and political philosophers even if they are not directly interested in criminal law). The collection is made yet more valuable by the addition of a substantial 'Reply to Critics'. * Antony Duff, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling * These essays touch upon virtually all of the most important and basic topics in the philosophy of criminal law: the nature of moral and penal responsibility; the contrast between offences and defences; the importance of distinctions between various kinds of defences; the justification of punishment; the nature of complicity; and the like. Every serious philosopher of law has already been challenged and stimulated by Gardner's exceedingly insightful work, and the
availability of this impressive set of essays in a single volume can only add to his growing stature and influence...Criminal theory has taken a giant step forward with the publication of Offences and Defences. This magnificent collection demonstrates what can happen when an outstanding philosopher turns
his attention to the criminal law. * Douglas Husak, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 29, No.1 * Without exception, each essay is finely written and distinctive in content. * Robert Sullivan, Law Quarterly Review, 2009 * 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 * A remarkable 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...the future of criminal law theory is only brighter for the fact that John Gardner's through-provoking compilation came so early in his career, and that he seems committed to continue to build on this impressive effort. * Francois Tanguay-Renaud, Res Publica, (15), 2009 * 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 * ...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 * ...essential reading for any theorist of the criminal law * Mark Thornton, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence *
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About John Gardner

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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