The Criminal Law’s Person

7 April 2016 - 8 April 2016

CRASSH (SG1&2), Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Registration is now open.


Matthew Kramer (University of Cambridge)
Matt Matravers (University of York)
Claes Lernestedt (University of Stockholm)
Marianne Kristiansson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm)


The idea of the responsible subject is central to the workings and legitimacy of the criminal law, for the criminal law blames and punishes. To hold people to account, to blame and to punish them for their actions, presupposes that they are responsible.  Yet the notion of responsibility has long been a contested one.

In the past, the criminal law has extended its punitive reach to children and non-human animals in violation of the underlying claim that it is only fair to blame and to punish those who have the capacities to understand and to guide their actions in accordance with the law’s demands.  This claim about fairness is increasingly challenged by those who seek to explain human behaviour in terms of underlying causes (of whatever kind). They have argued that once we understand how human beings “work”, we will see that they are not responsible in the way that is needed to warrant blame and punishment.

In this conference, the participants will be seeking to understand the conception of the responsible agent in the criminal law, in order to assess it critically and to offer an account of how it ought to be characterised.  Only through a proper understanding of that conception will we be in a position to judge whether the recent challenges to it by neuroscientists and others are fatal or not. 



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH).

Accommodation for speakers selected through the call for papers and non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange or book accommodation; however, the following websites may be of help:

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

Administrative assistance:

Day 1 - Thursday 7 April 2016


Registration (Tea and Coffee)

11.00 - 11.15


11.15 - 12.45

Richard Holton (University of Cambridge): Primitive Crime

Chair: Michael Moore (University of Illinois)

12.45 - 13.45


13.45 - 15.15

Alan NorrieCriminal Justice and the Blaming Relation

Chair: Ambrose Lee (University of Oxford)

15.15 - 15.45

Tea and Coffee

15.45 - 16.30

Marianne Kristiansson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm) and Claes Lernestedt (University of Stockholm): Who decides? 

Chair: Kai Hamdorf

16.45 - 18.30

Round Table: Medical versus Legal Models of Insanity 

  • Marianne Kristiansson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm)
  • Claes Lernestedt (University of Stockholm)
  • Matt Matravers (University of York)
  • Michael Moore (University of Illinois)

Day 2 - Friday 8 April 2016

9.30 - 11.00

Susanna Blumenthal (University of Minnesota): Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture

Chair: Malcolm Thorburn (University of Toronto)

11.00 - 11.30

Tea and Coffee

11.30 - 13.00

Jules Holroyd (University of Sheffield): Criminal Law’s Actual and Reasonable Persons

Chair:  Matthew Kramer (University of Cambridge)

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Round Table: Neuroscience and Criminal Law