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Responsibility in Law and Morality

By: Peter Cane
Media of Responsibility in Law and Morality
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Published: 17-04-2002
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 320
ISBN: 9781847310262
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £29.69
Online price : £23.75
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About Responsibility in Law and Morality

Lawyers who write about responsibility tend to focus on criminal law at the expense of civil and public law; while philosophers tend to treat responsibility as a moral concept,and either ignore the law or consider legal responsibility to be a more or less distorted reflection of its moral counterpart. This book aims to counteract both of these biases. By adopting a comparative institutional approach to the relationship between law and morality, it challenges the common view that morality stands to law as critical standard to conventional practice. It shows how law and morality interact symbiotically, and how careful study of legal concepts of responsibility can add significantly to our understanding of responsibility more generally.

Central to this project is a distinction between two paradigms of responsibility -- the criminal law paradigm and the civil law paradigm. Whereas theoretical discussions of responsibility tend focus on conduct and agency, taking account of civil law reveals the importance of outcomes and the interests of victims and society to ideas of responsibility. The book examines from a distinctively legal point of view central philosophical questions about responsibility such as its relationship with
culpability (challenging the common view that moral responsibility requires fault), causation and personality. It explores the relevance of sanctions and problems of proof and enforcement to ideas of responsibility, as well as the relationship between responsibility and distributive justice, and the role of concepts of responsibility in public law.

At the heart of this book lie two questions: what does it mean to say we are responsible? and, what are our responsibilities? Its aim is not to answer these questions but to challenge some traditional approaches to answering them and more importantly, to suggest fruitful alternative approaches that take law seriously.

Table Of Contents

1. Moral and Legal Responsibility
2. The Nature and Functions of Responsibility
3. Responsibility and Culpability
4. Responsibility and Causation
5. Responsibility and Personality
6. Grounds and Bounds of Responsibility
7. Realising Responsibility
8. Responsibility in Public Law
9. Thinking about Responsibility


“…an impressive and comprehensive discussion of the treatment of responsibility in the law-a discussion that ranges across nearly every field of law, and across jurisdictions, supported by detailed references to cases and supplemented by knowledgeable summaries of commentary by lawyers, legal philosophers, and moral philosophers.” –  Brian H. Bix, Ethics

“Peter Cane has written an impressively wide-ranging and illuminating booka truly commendable piece of work. Cane's book deserves a large audience among legal, moral, and political philosophers.” –  Matthew H. Kramer, Cambridge University, Philosophical Review

“…it offers a notably clear and robust formulation of a social approach towards responsibility… he has plenty of interesting and illuminating insights to offer…lawyers and philosphers alike will learn a great deal from this careful dissection of topics…” –  Jeremy Watkins, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol 26, No 3, pp 593-608

“This is a wide-ranging, highly sophisticated work which looks at concepts of responsibility in law across a range of areas.” –  Alan Norrie, Adelaide Law Review

“'Responsibility in Law and Morality' is a challenging and valuable book.

Although I have criticised Cane's account of responsibilty in this review, I do not wish to leave the reader with the impression that his book is anything but valuable and rewarding it is an illuminating study of responsibilty in law. It is my view that modern lawyers have a great deal to learn from its approach. Accordingly, apart from being essential reading for anyone interested in legal theory, the book has much to teach any lawyer with even the smallest interest in the justifications of legal liability.

” –  Allan Beever, Melbourne University Law Review

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