Filippo Santoni de Sio

An Aristotelian View of Responsibility. John Gardner, Oxford Philosophy, and the Criminal Law

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John Gardner - H.L.A. Hart's heir on the Chair of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford - dubs his own theory of personal responsibility an «Aristotelian View». In the first part of the paper, the core of this view - the coincidence of «basic responsibility» with «practical reason» - is presented in connection with some aspects of the last decades' Oxford Jurisprudence. Some general implications of this view for the theory of justification and excuse in the criminal law are then discussed. In the second part, Oxford ethical naturalistic cognitivism is presented as the implicit moral background of Gardner's philosophy of criminal law. In the final part of the paper, some points of contacts between Oxford ethics and Gardner's theory of excuses as based on «normative expectations» are highlighted, in connection with some insights of Gardner's mentor: Tony Honoré. Finally, the compatibility of Gardner's theory of responsibility with his pluralistic liberalism is explained.


  • Responsibility
  • Practical Reason
  • Criminal Law
  • Oxford Philosophy
  • Excuses


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