Thursday, February 6, 2014
In Rethinking Criminal Law Theory, Francois Tanguay-Renaud and James Stribopoulos present a collection of essays by Canadian thinkers on a number of issues pertaining to criminal law. In this review essay, the author examines three contributions to the collection – by Malcolm Thorburn, Tanguay-Renaud, and Annalise Acorn – all of which engage with the work of John Gardner. Thorburn’s article continues his debate with Gardner over the nature of police powers, self-defence, and justificatory defences in general. Tanguay-Renaud addresses the use of defences in “private emergencies”. Though Tanguay-Renaud accepts much of Gardner’s approach to criminal defences, the former’s treatment of “epistemic justifications” blurs the latter’s distinction between justification and excuse – a distinction that Gardner thought important in his debate with Thorburn. Finally, Annalise Acorn weighs in on a debate between Gardner and Mackay on whether stigma should be attached to claims of diminished responsibility and mental disorder. In this review, I try to expose some of the fault lines in the above debates, and tease out their broader implications.