Attributability and Accountability in the Criminal Law

Presented at the Criminal Law’s Person Workshop at the University of Stockholm.

Accounts of responsibility abound in theories of criminal law, because the criminal law represents the severest, most powerful, and hence most potentially problematic means of responding to individuals that is available to us. In this paper, I examine a number of recent prominent theories of criminal responsibility, drawing on an extant distinction from the moral responsibility literature to divide them into what I call attributability-first and accountability-first theories of criminal responsibility. On that basis, I distinguish two different conceptions of the person in the criminal law.

For a full draft, email me at robin.zheng(at)


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