Criminal Law and/as Political Theory
9 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 19, 2020
This essay reviews two recent books, Vincent Chiao's Criminal Law in the Age of the Administrative State (2018) and Erin Kelly's The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility (2018).
The predominant approach to criminal law theory sees criminal law as divorced from core questions of political theory. These books by Chiao and Kelly exemplify an alternative approach to that sees criminal law theory as a topic in political theory. On this alternative approach, criminal justice institutions raise core questions about coercion and legitimacy that apply to other political institutions and call for evaluation based on generally-applicable principles of political justification.
This essay first examines the main arguments of Chiao’s and Kelly’s books, then sketches some analytic implications for theorizing criminal law as a topic in political theory.
Keywords: criminal law, criminal theory, political philosophy
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