Questioning culpability: Lessons from soterial-legal history

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Through specific, historical, interchanges and the more diffuse molding of our ‘Western’ social imaginary, the Judaic-Christian tradition has helped shape several of the criminal law’s culpability concepts, including guilt, blame and reconciliation. In doing so, it has contributed towards the inherent moral grammar of our criminal justice thinking. By considering perennial questions, such as the importance of consciousness and intentionality in determining culpability, and the importance of culpability within the architecture of criminal liability more broadly, this article argues that re-engaging with the religious underpinnings of these debates is important and worthwhile, particularly in an age marked by the desire to secularize the criminal law and to become ‘emancipated’ from religious thinking. It concludes by suggesting that this re-engagement yields important insights regarding the tensions that permeate our criminal justice practices and points towards ways in which these might potentially be reconciled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-183
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Humanities
Issue number2
Early online date2 Sept 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • culpability
  • guilt
  • blame
  • punishment
  • law and religion
  • secularisation


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