Criminal Responsibility and the Living Self

Giddens, Thomas (2015) Criminal Responsibility and the Living Self. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 9 (2). pp. 189-206. ISSN 1871-9791

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Behaviour, including criminal behaviour, takes place in lived contexts of embodied action and experience. The way in which abstract models of selfhood efface the individual as a unique, living being is a central aspect of the ‘ethical/other’ debate; if an individual is modelled as abstracted from this ‘living’ context, that individual cannot be properly or meaningfully linked with his or her behaviour, and thus cannot justly be understood as responsible. The dominant rational choice models of criminal identity in legal theory involve at least a partial abstraction of this ‘unethical’ type by prioritising the rational will over the more fluid dimensions of lived reality. From a phenomenological perspective, an approach of ‘restlessness’ is proposed which can move us closer to an ethical understanding of individuals on a theoretical level. Although such a move may initially seem to threaten criminal justice with an irrational nihilism, by maintaining awareness of the irreducibility of ‘living’ reality a restless theoretical understanding of moral selfhood may be able to shape or underpin the attribution of responsibility in more practical or substantive contexts without succumbing to meaninglessness.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Criminal responsibility; Selfhood; Autonomy; Phenomenology; Alterity; Kant
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 126 The self
100 Philosophy & psychology > 144 Humanism & related systems
300 Social sciences > 345 Criminal law
300 Social sciences > 364 Criminology
School/Department: School of Management and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Thomas Giddens
Date Deposited: 17 May 2013 09:07
Last Modified: 15 May 2015 13:02

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