Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 185–207 | Cite as

The Philosophy of Criminalisation: A Review of Duff et al.’s Criminalisation Series

  • Paul McGorrery
Book Review


The philosophy of criminalisation has been a neglected topic for some time now. A considerable amount of modern criminal justice literature is dedicated to preventing crime and punishing crime, but precious little attention is dedicated to the preliminary question: what should be a crime? Over the last decade, five editors and dozens of authors published a four-part series of edited essays in an attempt to answer that question. The present article is a hybrid of sorts: in one sense, it is a review of the essays in that series; but in another sense, this article also makes its own unique contribution by answering two key questions. First, what is criminalisation? And second, how should lawmakers decide what to criminalise? Most importantly, this article suggests a new criminalisation decision-making process in order to ensure the criminal law is a justifiable framework of prohibitions and sanctions.


Criminalisation Criminal law Criminal law philosophy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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