The Meta-Significance of Criminal Responsibility

Arlie Loughnan


Criminal responsibility now forms the subject matter of a rich and deep vein of criminal law theory. Taking up Farmer’s exhortation to reflectivity in criminal legal scholarship, this article suggests that the prominent scholarly profile of criminal responsibility is a product of its particular qualities as an object of academic study, over and above its role in the criminal law. The significance of criminal responsibility in/for criminal law theory, which I call the meta-significance of criminal responsibility, has two aspects, corresponding to two of its qualities as an object of study. I suggest that, with synthetic and talismanic qualities, criminal responsibility has particular meaning both within and beyond the bounds of criminal legal theory.

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