Digging Up, Dismantling, and Redesigning the Criminal Law
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- Brownlee, K. Criminal Law, Philosophy (2013) 7: 169. doi:10.1007/s11572-012-9187-4
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The criminal law raises wonderfully thorny foundational questions. Some of these questions are conceptual: What is a plausible conception of crime? What is a plausible conception of criminal law? Some of these questions are genealogical: What are the historical and genealogical roots of the criminal law in a particular jurisdiction? Other questions are evaluative: What are the political and moral values on which a given conception of criminal law depends? What kind of rational reconstruction, if any, could the criminal law be given? And, finally, still other questions are exploratory and normative: Should parts of existing criminal law be abandoned? What new topics in criminal law theory need to be addressed in our globalised, technologically savvy world? The contributors to Antony Duff and Stuart P. Green’s collection Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law tackle these questions with zeal and independent spirit. They disagree markedly with each other about what the foundational questions are. And, they disagree about how those questions should be handled. This article charts their disagreements by situating the contributors within two taxonomies. The first groups them according to their approaches to the foundational questions; the second groups them according to their modes of theorising. This double taxonomy provides a useful frame within which to analyse these competing takes on the philosophically foundational work of criminal law theory.