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Central Issues in Criminal Theory

By: William Wilson
Media of Central Issues in Criminal Theory
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Published: 12-11-2002
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 384
ISBN: 9781841130620
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm
RRP: £32.99
Online price : £29.69
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Loren Epson

About Central Issues in Criminal Theory

Coercive rules and their implementation are,in liberal democratic societies at least, subject to ethical constraints. The state's moral authority requires these constraints to be both cogent and effectively realised in doctrine. In short, the enterprise of subjecting individuals to coercive rules must be consistent with the delivery of criminal justice. Contemporary criminal theory is much exercised by the apparent contradictions and ambiguities characterising criminal law doctrine. Is this an inevitable part of the territory leading us to question the very possibility of criminal law delivering justice? Or, as the author prefers, is criminal justice an achievement in which one of the tasks of criminal theory is to set goals and identify deficiencies in a constant effort to improve the form and content of rules and procedures? Informed by this premise the book explores some of the key questions in criminal theory, addressing first the ethics of criminalisation and punishment. It continues with an examination of the structure of criminal liability with its emphasis on separating consideration of the objective conditions of wrongdoing from the features which make a person responsible for it. Finally it examines attempts and accessoryship with
a view to exploring the doctrinal tensions which may arise when competing justifications for criminalisation and punishment collide.

The book gives an account of the present state of criminal theory in an accessible style which will welcomed by those embarking upon courses in advanced criminal law and criminal theory, teachers, and more generally by practitioners and scholars.

Table Of Contents

1 Criminalising Wrongdoing

2 Punishing Wrongdoing

3 Criminal Wrongdoing: Acts and Omissions

4 Criminalising Wrongdoing: Voluntariness

5 Intention, Motives and Desert

6 Causing Harm

7 Attributing Liability to Secondary Parties

8 Criminal Attempts

9 Packaging Criminal Liability

10 Criminal Defences: Setting Limits to Justifications

11 Excusing Wrongdoing: Capacity and Virtue


“...astounding wealth of arguments discussed and the astuteness and brilliance of the analysis...” –  Carl-Friedrich Stuckenberg, Criminal Law Forum

“Wilson has produced a book that is relatively small but that addresses the basic questions in a logical and coherent manner. Indeed, one of the author's considerable strengths is his ability to explain particularly intricate and often obscure points in simple, comprehensible language. The way in which each chapter begins with a general introduction to the topic, identifying the important issues, is helpful in this regard.” –  Barry Mitchell, Times Higher Education Supplement

“Wilson's book is a thoughtful contribution to the developing field of theoretical writing about the criminal law.” –  Victor Tadros, Modern Law Review

“In this engaging, well-written book, William Wilson explores the classic internal questions thrown up by criminal law doctrine. These include the principles underlying the decision to criminalise some behaviour and the nature of punishment, as well as the issues identified as central by many writers since Glanville Williams first published Criminal Law: The General Part 50 years ago.” –  Celia Wells, Cardiff University, Law Quarterly Review

“The book is well-written, the author has read widely, and the explanation of the positions of the commentators is very good.

. . . In sum, the book provides a decent explanation of the position of theory in academic Criminal Law at the start of the twenty-first century, it could be used in undergraduate courses on Criminal Law and it is suited to be a textbook on more advanced, more theoretical, Criminal Law modules. It is also an exemplar of the coming of age of theoretical perspectives in Anglo-Welsh Criminal Law.

” –  Michael Jefferson, University of Sheffield, The Law Teacher

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