Guilt and Choice in Criminal Law Theory – A Critical Assessment

How to Cite

Hörnle, T. (2016). Guilt and Choice in Criminal Law Theory – A Critical Assessment. Bergen Journal of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, 4(1), 1-24.


The article discusses the Principle of Guilt and the Principle of Alternate Decisions, beginning with their central role in German law before moving on to the broader discussion. It argues that criminal law theory should not rely on the Principle of Alternate Decisions as it is not consistent with the most plausible, empirically founded model of how human beings make decisions. However, this does not lead to the conclusion that criminal punishment in the traditional sense, that is, as a practice involving blame, should be abandoned. Blame is compatible with a realistic view on decision-making. Compatibilism is not new to criminal law theory – several authors have developed such arguments. However, a simple version of compatibilism, arguing that substantive criminal law is not in need of major modifications, is insufficient. The main point in this paper is that several issues in criminal law doctrine, the place and scope of insanity defences, mitigations and intention as volition, need to be re-considered and re-conceptualized.

Copyright (c) 2016 Tatjana Hörnle

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