, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 251-257
Date: 07 Feb 2007

Historical differentiation, moral judgment and the modern criminal law

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Nicola Lacey proposes an analysis of criminal law which links principles of responsibility to their historical development. Starting from George Fletcher’s account of three historical patterns of liability (Fletcher, 1978), Lacey develops a more complex differentiation, and at the same time foregrounds the historical conditions for the emergence of different conceptions of responsibility.

‘Space, Time and Function: intersecting principles of responsibility across the terrain of criminal justice’, this issue DOI 10.1007/s11572-006-9025-7.

In thinking about these, Lacey’s focus is on the relationship between capacity and character-based conceptions. Capacity-based conceptions rely upon either the identification of free choices on the basis of psychological states of mind—reason, intention, foresight, will formation—or the existence of ideas of fair opportunity to conform one’s behaviour to law. As for character responsibility, Lacey identifies ‘broad’ and ‘cautious’ forms, and she suggests ...

Thanks to Peter Ramsay for his comments.