This chapter makes a case for the republican tradition in political philosophy as a theory that can provide a rational reconstruction of criminal law. It argues that republicanism offers a reconstruction of criminal law that is both rational and plausible. In particular, it shows that republicanism can help us to make sense of three important features of criminal law: first, the conviction that crime is a public wrong; second, the general pattern of development of criminal law historically; and third, the public nature of criminal law as a cooperative enterprise. To begin, however, it explains what republicanism is and why it is a proper place to look for a rational reconstruction of criminal law.

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Copyright © 2011 Oxford University Press. This chapter first appeared in Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law.

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