1st Edition

The Structure and Limits of Criminal Law

By Paul H. Robinson Copyright 2014

    This volume brings together a collection of essays, many of them scholarly classics, which form part of the debates on three questions central to criminal law theory. The first of these questions is: what conduct should be necessary for criminal liability, and what sufficient? The answer to this question has wider implications for the debate about morality enforcement given the concern that the ’harm principle’ may have collapsed under its own weight. Secondly, essays address the question of what culpability should be necessary for criminal liability, and what sufficient? Here, the battles continue over whether the formulation of doctrines - such as the insanity defense, criminal negligence, strict liability, and others - should ignore or minimize the extent of an offender's blameworthiness in the name of effective crime-control. Or, are methods of accommodating the tension now in sight? Finally, essays consider the question of how criminal law rules should be best organized into a coherent and clarifying doctrinal structure. The structure grown by the common law process competes not only with that of modern comprehensive codifications, such as the America Law Institute's Model Penal Code, but also with alternative structures imagined but not yet tried.

    Contents: Introduction, Paul H. Robinson and Joshua Samuel Barton. Part I The Structure of Criminal Law: Should the criminal law abandon the actus reus-mens rea distinction?, Paul H. Robinson; Imputed criminal liability, Paul H. Robinson; General defences, Paul H. Robinson; Distinguishing justifications from excuses, Kent Greenawalt; A functional analysis of criminal law, Paul H. Robinson. Part II The Limits of Criminal Law: Offence Conduct: Immorality and treason, H.L.A. Hart; The search for limits: law and morals, Herbert L. Packer; The overreach of the criminal law, Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins; The collapse of the harm principle, Bernard E. Harcourt; Rethinking the offense principle, A.P. Simester and Andrew Von Hirsch. Part III The Limits of Criminal Law: Offender Culpability: Strict liability in the criminal law, Richard A. Wasserstrom; Crime and the Criminal Law: a review, H.L.A. Hart; A strict accountability approach to criminal responsibility, Jay Campbell; The decline of innocence, Sanford H. Kadish; The theory of criminal negligence: a comparative analysis, George P. Fletcher; The abolition of the special defense of insanity, Norval Morris; Excusing crime, Sanford H. Kadish; The utility of desert, Paul H. Robinson and John M. Darley; Are we responsible for who we are? The challenge for criminal law theory in the defenses of coercive indoctrination and ‘rotten social background’, Paul H. Robinson. Name index.


    Paul H. Robinson is the Colin S. Diver Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, USA.