This book considers the proper nature and scope of criminal responsibility in the light of its institutional and political role. Tadros begins by providing an account of the foundations, both ethical and political, of criminal responsibility, and moves on to reconsider some of the central doctrines of criminal responsibility. Part 1 examines the nature of criminal responsibility by employing a distinctive new conception of autonomy. Tadros explores the nature of autonomy, and asks what it means to respect autonomy. Building upon this consideration of autonomy, Tadros then explores the central conditions of responsibility. He provides the first systematic consideration of the relationship between criminal responsibility and liberal political theory, showing how the conditions of responsibility are articulated in, and restrained by, the institutional setting of the criminal law. In Part 2, Tadros moves on to consider some of the central doctrines of criminal responsibility. He examines the proper nature and role of causation, intentions, and beliefs; asking whether these concepts should be understood as descriptive or normative.
The book moves on to provide a systematic normative investigation of the nature and role of criminal omissions and criminal defences. Included are: a thorough account of the different ways in which mental disorders might ground defences, the nature of justification defences, the different kinds of excuse claim and the role that particular characteristics of the accused might have on the standards which the defendant must have met to escape criminal responsibility.