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Title: Legal Obligation and the Criminal Law
Author(s): Duff, R A
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Editor(s): Bertea, Stefano
Citation: Duff RA (2020) Legal Obligation and the Criminal Law. In: Bertea S (ed.) Contemporary Perspectives on Legal Obligation. London: Routledge, pp. 116-132.
Issue Date: 2020
Date Deposited: 21-Oct-2020
Abstract: Antony Duff’s contribution is concerned with the obligations that we might be held to have in relation to the criminal law. In this context, Duff makes two main arguments. First, criminal law theorists often describe the criminal law’s offence definitions as ‘prohibitions’ that citizens are obligated to obey: though this way of talking fits naturally with talk of the criminal law as imposing obligations, it is at best misleading: these offence definitions should not, typically, be understood as imposing obligations to refrain from the conduct they define as criminal, or as consisting in prohibitions that we are to obey. Second, theorists of political obligation also commonly take it that that obligation is an obligation to obey the law. Duff notices that this implies an overly deferential attitude towards the law on the part of citizens; we should instead talk of the responsibility of citizens of a democratic republic to play an active role in the enterprise of criminal law, as part of the larger civic enterprise of self-government under the rule of law.
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a chapter published by Taylor & Francis Group in Bertea S (ed.) Contemporary Perspectives on Legal Obligation. London: Routledge, pp. 116-132 on 28 Jul 2020, available online:

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