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A TRUCE IN CRIMINAL LAW’S DISTRIBUTIVE-PRINCIPLE WARS?

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University Of Surrey

388 Stag Hill

Guildford

GU2 7XH

United Kingdom

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The Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy’s Spring Keynote Lecture will consider two seemingly irreconcilable ideas about what should shape criminal law rules. Some think that the point of criminal law is to make us safer by deterring crime and incapacitating criminals. Others believe that what matters most is ensuring that individual offenders, and their victims, get what they deserve: justice in the individual case. Professor Paul H. Robinson will argue that these two views have more in common that we tend to think, because good evidence suggests that doing justice for past wrongdoing according to the community’s principles of desert is probably the best way to make our societies safer.

But what exactly does “doing justice” involve? Professor Robinson will explore five key questions raised by his proposal: Is there any such thing as “the community’s views” of justice? Are the community’s views of justice too brutish and draconian to adopt? Why should those concerned with crime control care what the community thinks is just? Even if “doing justice” would reduce crime, might another strategy be more effective? And finally, if tracking the community’s existing views of justice really is the best way to control crime, doesn’t that leave us forever stuck with existing community norms many of which we might want to change?

Paul H. Robinson, the Colin S. Diver Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the world’s leading criminal law scholars. A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Professor Robinson has published 17 books, including the standard lawyer’s reference on criminal law defences and three Oxford monographs on criminal law theory. He recently completed three criminal code reform projects in the United States and two modern Islamic penal law codifications under the auspices of the UN Development Program and the International Law Development Organisation. A former U.S. federal prosecutor and counsel for the US Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures, he was the lone dissenter when the US Sentencing Commission promulgated the current U.S. federal sentencing guidelines.

After this thought-provoking Keynote, the Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy will welcome all attendees to a drinks reception with the opportunity to discuss the topic further with the speakers.

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University Of Surrey

388 Stag Hill

Guildford

GU2 7XH

United Kingdom

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