Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296451
 


 



William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Vol. 4 (1769)


Simon Stern


University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

July 20, 2013

Markus Dubber, ed., Foundational Texts in Modern Criminal Law (Oxford University Press), Forthcoming

Abstract:     
This chapter discusses the fourth volume of Blackstone's Commentaries (1769), asking what contribution this volume makes to English criminal law. Issues addressed include the general structure of Blackstone's discussion, the relation between Blackstone's treatment and those of his precursors (especially Sir Matthew Hale and William Hawkins), the historical and literary range of Blackstone's references, the nature of his legal reform agenda, and his conception of the book's audience. The discussion begins by considering how criminal law figured in Blackstone’s effort to provide an integrated account of the legal system. Next, the chapter addresses questions of intention, will, and capacity, to highlight some differences between Blackstone’s aims and the expectations that a modern reader might bring to a general overview of criminal law. The final two sections deal with Beccaria’s influence on Blackstone’s recommendations for criminal law reform, and Blackstone’s preference for legislative change rather than reform of the common law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: Blackstone, criminal law, legal history, common law, eighteenth century, punishment, preventive justice

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Date posted: July 22, 2013 ; Last revised: December 3, 2013

Suggested Citation

Stern, Simon, William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Vol. 4 (1769) (July 20, 2013). Markus Dubber, ed., Foundational Texts in Modern Criminal Law (Oxford University Press), Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296451 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2296451

Contact Information

Simon Stern (Contact Author)
University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )
78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/simon-stern

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