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Freedom and Criminal Responsibility in American Legal Thought
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Freedom and Criminal Responsibility in American Legal Thought (Hardback)

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Synopsis

As the first full-length study of twentieth-century American legal academics wrestling with the problem of free will versus determinism in the context of criminal responsibility, this book deals with one of the most fundamental problems in criminal law. Thomas Andrew Green chronicles legal academic ideas from the Progressive Era critiques of free will-based (and generally retributive) theories of criminal responsibility to the midcentury acceptance of the idea of free will as necessary to a criminal law conceived of in practical moral-legal terms that need not accord with scientific fact to the late-in-century insistence on the compatibility of scientific determinism with moral and legal responsibility and with a modern version of the retributivism that the Progressives had attacked. Foregrounding scholars' language and ideas, Green invites readers to participate in reconstructing an aspect of the past that is central to attempts to work out bases for moral judgment, legal blame, and criminal punishment.

Thomas Andrew Green is the John P. Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law emeritus and Professor of History emeritus at the University of Michigan. He served as editor or coeditor of Studies in Legal History, the book series of the American Society for Legal History, from 1986 to 2011. Green has also served as president of the American Society for Legal History, has been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, and has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. One of his previous publications, Verdict According to Conscience: Perspectives on the English Criminal Trial Jury, 1200-1800 (1985), and the present volume together form the framework of his current project, a study of the relationship between ideas about the jury and ideas about criminal responsibility in the English and American past. That project will complete Green's work on two aspects of freedom in Anglo-American criminal justice history: political liberty and free will.

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