february, 2019

27feb4:00 pm6:00 pmAntony Duff: 'Two Models of Criminal Fault'A Hart Seminar


Event Details

It is my pleasure to invite you to a Hart Seminar featuring Professor Antony Duff: ‘Two Models of Criminal Fault’. This is an optional pre-read seminar, and the reading will be circulated to registered attendees one week prior to the event.


Abstract:  We find in Anglo-American criminal law a standard account of (so-called) criminal fault: a hierarchy of four types of ‘fault’ or ‘culpability’: purpose, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence. In most cases, criminal liability requires at least recklessness. There are at least two kinds of objection to the role that recklessness plays in this account. First, it may be too broad a category, encompassing both an agent who realises that X will very probably ensue, and doesn’t care, and an agent who thinks that X will probably not ensue and hopes that it will not. Second, the distinction between advertent and inadvertent risk-taking may not always have the kind of normative significance that the standard account ascribes to it. I’ll consider the force of these objections by contrasting this account with the German model of criminal fault, which distinguishes Vorsatz (‘intention’), which can take the form of purpose, knowledge, or dolus eventualis, and Fahrlässigkeit (‘negligence’), which can be advertent or inadvertent. The discussion has wider implications for our understanding of moral blameworthiness, in particular the importance of attending to the agent’s conception of the reasons for and against her action, how our understanding of and judgment on an action can depend on the agent’s reaction to it after the event, and why it is a mistake to make (conscious) choice the primary measure of an agent’s fault. A further question will be whether, or how far, the criminal law should seek to capture the different dimensions of moral culpability.


Antony Duff is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Stirling, where he taught from 1970 to 2009. From 2010 to 2015 he held a half-time chair in the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was also co-director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo as well as an LLB and PhD from Oxford University. His work focuses on criminal punishment, on the structures of criminal liability, on the criminal process and on criminalization. He recently led major AHRC-funded research projects on The Trial on Trial, and on Criminalization, and also chaired the British Academy working group that produced the policy report on prisons: A Presumption Against Imprisonment (2014).


Professor Duff’s seminar is part of our Hart Seminar Series, which features a diverse group of leading scholars working at the intersection of law and philosophy. Hart Publishing contributes generous support to make the seminar series possible.


(Wednesday) 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


University of Surrey School of Law

Frank Whittle Building (AB) Fifth Floor, Guildford, GU2 7XH

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