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Crime and Culpability
A Theory of Criminal Law


Part of Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Law

  • Date Published: March 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521518772

$ 104.00

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About the Authors
  • This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organised around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they deserve. Larry Alexander and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan argue that desert is a function of the actor's culpability, and that culpability is a function of the risks of harm to protected interests that the actor believes he is imposing and his reasons for acting in the face of those risks. The authors deny that resultant harms, as well as unperceived risks, affect the actor's desert. They thus reject punishment for inadvertent negligence as well as for intentions or preparatory acts that are not risky. Alexander and Ferzan discuss the reasons for imposing risks that negate or mitigate culpability, the individuation of crimes, and omissions.

    • Takes a new and controversial angle on the crime and punishment debate
    • Will appeal to criminologists, criminal lawyers and legal theorists as well as philosophers
    • Shows not only theory, but how it would be put into practice
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521518772
    • length: 376 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 155 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.72kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction: Retribution and the Criminal Law:
    1. Criminal law, punishment, and desert
    Part II. The Culpable Act:
    2. The essence of culpability: acts manifesting insufficient concern for the legally protected interests of others
    3. Negligence
    4. Defeaters of culpability
    Part III. The Immateriality of Resulting Harm to Legally Protected Interests:
    5. Only culpability, not resulting harm, affects desert
    6. When are inchoate crimes culpable and why?
    7. The locus of culpability
    Part IV. A Proposed Code:
    8. What a culpability-based criminal code might look like.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Advanced Philosophy of Law
  • Authors

    Larry Alexander, University of San Diego School of Law
    Larry Alexander is the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego. He has authored and co-authored five books, most recently Is There a Right to Freedom of Expression and, with Emily Sherwin, Demystifying Legal Reasoning.

    Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Rutgers University, School of Law, Camden
    Kimberly Kessler Ferzan is associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of law at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden. The author of numerous articles, essays, and book chapters on criminal law theory, she is co-founder and co-director of the Rutgers-Camden Institute for Law and Philosophy.


    Stephen J. Morse, University of Pennsylvania Law School

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