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Keywords:

  • criminal responsibility;
  • history of doctrine;
  • citizenship;
  • risk;
  • strict;
  • liability;
  • criminalisation

This paper seeks to explain two problems posed by the history of criminal law doctrine by situating them in the context of the political sociology of citizenship. First, the paper outlines the logical connection between the rise to doctrinal orthodoxy of the idea of the responsible subject and the contemporaneous emergence of universal political citizenship. Secondly, it argues that subjectivist orthodoxy in doctrine may be reconciled with the apparently antithetical forms of regulatory strict liability law within the terms of ‘modern democratic citizenship’ as the latter were conceptualised by T. H. Marshall. Finally, by means of a comparison with Alan Brudner's recent philosophical rationalisation of the modern criminal law, it proposes that situating the criminal law in its environment of citizenship will help us to understand better the tensions that underlie contemporary challenges to its doctrine.