Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 233–250

Space, time and function: intersecting principles of responsibility across the terrain of criminal justice

Original Paper


This paper considers the interpretive significance of the intersecting relationships between different conceptions of responsibility as they shift over space and time. The paper falls into two main sections. The first gives an account of several conceptions of responsibility: two conceptions founded in ideas of capacity; two founded in ideas of character, and one founded in the relationship between an agent and the outcome which she causes. The second main section uses this differentiated conceptual account to analyse and interpret certain aspects of the contemporary criminal law of England and Wales. In conclusion, the paper considers a number of hypotheses about what the evidence of certain shifts in the relationship between the three families of responsibility-conception can tell us about the current state and significance of criminal law among other systems of social governance.


Crime Responsibility Capacity Character Outcome 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law DepartmentLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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