Advertisement

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 227–245 | Cite as

‘O Call Me Not to Justify the Wrong’: Criminal Answerability and the Offence/Defence Distinction

  • Luís Duarte d’Almeida
Original Paper
  • 343 Downloads

Abstract

Most philosophers of criminal law agree that between criminal offences and defences there is a significant, substantial difference. It is a difference, however, that has proved hard to pin down. In recent work, Duff and others have suggested that it mirrors the distinction between criminal answerability and liability to criminal punishment. Offence definitions, says Duff, are—and ought to be—those action-types ‘for which a defendant can properly be called to answer in a criminal court, on pain of conviction and condemnation if she cannot offer an exculpatory answer’; and defences are ‘exculpatory answers’ that ‘block the transition from responsibility to liability’. I criticise this answerability-based account of the offence/defence divide. It is descriptively false, I claim, as well as normatively unappealing.

Keywords

Answerability Responsibility Defeaters Offence/defence distinction 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For helpful comments and discussion I am grateful to Antony Duff, Benjamin Spagnolo, James Edwards, John Gardner, Pedro Múrias, Timothy Endicott, audiences in Oxford and Lisbon, and an anonymous reviewer for Criminal Law and Philosophy. I also acknowledge and thank the financial support provided by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant SFRH/BD/44394/2008, financed by POPH-QREN-Type 4.1-Advanced Training, co-funded by the European Social Fund and by national MCTES funds).

References

  1. Ashworth, A., & Redmayne, M. (2010). The criminal process (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Austin, J. L. (1979). Philosophical papers (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Baier, K. (1970). Responsibility and action. In M. Brand (Ed.), The nature of human action. Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Company.Google Scholar
  4. Bohlander, M. (2009). Principles of German criminal law. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  5. Brito, J. S. (1995). Etablierung des Strafrechtssystems zwischen formaler Begriffsjurisprudenz und funktionalistischer Auflösung. In B. Schünemann & J. F. Dias (Eds.), Bausteine des europäischen Strafrechts. Carl Heymann: Köln.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, K. (1987). Offence and defence. In I. H. Dennis (Ed.), Criminal law and justice. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  7. Chapman, B. (1998a). More easily done than said: Rules, reasons, and rational choice. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 18, 293–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapman, B. (1998b). Law incommensurability, and conceptually sequenced argument. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 146, 1487–1528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapman, B. (1998c). Law games: Defeasible rules and revisable rationality. Law and Philosophy, 17, 443–480.Google Scholar
  10. Crown Prosecution Service. (2004). The code for crown prosecutors.Google Scholar
  11. Crown Prosecution Service. (2010). The code for crown prosecutors.Google Scholar
  12. Dempsey, M. M., & Herring, J. (2007). Why sexual penetration requires justification. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 27, 467–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dubber, M. D. (2005). The promise of German criminal law: A science of crime and punishment. German Law Journal, 6, 1049–1072.Google Scholar
  14. Duff, R. A. (2007). Answering for crime. Responsibility and liability in the criminal law. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  15. Duff, R. A. (2008). Responsibility and liability in criminal law. In M. H. Kramer, C. Grant, B. Colburn, & A. Hatzistavrou (Eds.), The legacy of H.L.A. Hart. Legal, political, and moral philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Duff, R. A. (2009). Legal and moral responsibility. Philosophy Compass, 4, 978–986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duff, R. A., Farmer, L., Marshall, S., & Tadros, V. (2007). The trial on trial. Volume 3. Towards a normative theory of the criminal trial (Vol. 3). Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  18. Ferrer Beltrán, J. (2006). Legal proof and fact finders’ beliefs. Legal Theory, 12, 293–314.Google Scholar
  19. Fletcher, G. P. (1978). Rethinking criminal law. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  20. Gardner, J. (2007). Offences and defences. Selected essays in the philosophy of criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Garzón Valdés, E. (1997). Über Verantwortungssätze. In E. G. Valdés, W. Krawietz, G. H. von Wright, & R. Zimmerling (Eds.), Normative systems in legal and moral theory. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  22. Hart, H. L. A. (1949). The ascription of responsibility and rights. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 49, 171–194.Google Scholar
  23. Hassemer, W. (1990). Einführung in die Grundlagen des Strafrechts (2nd ed.). Munich: Beck.Google Scholar
  24. Heintz, L. L. (1981). The logic of defenses. American Philosophical Quarterly, 18, 243–248.Google Scholar
  25. Ho, H. L. (2008). A philosophy of evidence law. Justice in the search for truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Howarth, W. (1981). The feasibility of defeasibility. The Cambrian Law Review, 12, 33–41.Google Scholar
  27. Husak, D. N. (1987). Philosophy of criminal law. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  28. Husak, D. (2010). The philosophy of criminal law. Selected essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Husak, D. (2011). On the De Minimis ‘defence’ to criminal liability. In R. A. Duff & S. P. Green (Eds.), Philosophical foundations of criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jescheck, H. H., & Weigend, T. (1996). Lehrburch des Strafrechts. Allgemeiner Teil (5th ed.). Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  31. Jung, H. (2002). Making sense of the German ‘Straftatlehre’. A personal account. In P. Asp, C. E. Herlitz, & L. Homqvist (Eds.), Flores Juris et Legum: Festskrift till Nils Jareborg. Iustus: Uppsala.Google Scholar
  32. Leader-Elliot, I. (2010). A critical reading of R. A. Duff’s answering for crime. Adelaide Law Review, 31, 47–78.Google Scholar
  33. Lucas, J. R. (1993). Responsibility. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Nakhnikian, G. (1957). Contemporary ethical theories and jurisprudence. Natural Law Forum, 2, 4–40.Google Scholar
  35. Nowell-Smith, P. H. (1976). Action and responsibility. In M. Brand & D. Walton (Eds.), Action theory. Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  36. Oshana, M. A. L. (1997). Ascriptions of responsibility. American Philosophical Quarterly, 34, 71–83.Google Scholar
  37. Roberts, P., & Zuckerman, A. (2010). Criminal evidence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Roxin, R. (2006). Strafrecht. Allgemeiner Teil. Band I—Grundlagen. Der Aufbau der Verbrechenslehre (4th ed.). Munich: Beck.Google Scholar
  39. Simester, A. P., Spencer, J. R., Sullivan, G. R., & Virgo, G. J. (2010). Simester and Sullivan’s criminal law. Theory and doctrine (4th ed.). Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  40. Tadros, V. (2005). Criminal responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Tur, R. H. S. (2001). Defeasibilism. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 21, 355–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Watson, G. (2004). Agency and answerability. Selected essays. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  43. Westen, P. (2008). Offences and defences again. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 28, 563–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Churchill CollegeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.University of GironaGironaSpain
  3. 3.LanCog GroupUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations