Document Type


Publication Date



Friday, 10 September – Sunday, 12 September, 2010
Location: Osgoode Professional Development (OPD)
1 Dundas Street West, Suite 2602
Toronto, ON, M5G 1Z3

Conference Theme

The philosophy of criminal law is at a turning point in Canada. The adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has given the Supreme Court of Canada unprecedented latitude to engage with principles of moral, political, and legal philosophy when elaborating its criminal law jurisprudence. Be it in the context of discussions about the constitutionalization of various aspects of moral innocence, the harm principle, the rule of law, the availability of legal rights to corporate entities, the justification of state punishment, or the nature of crimes with international dimensions, the works of philosophers like John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, Hans Kelsen, H.L.A. Hart, Joel Feinberg, Joseph Raz, and George P. Fletcher are already given significant attention. An appraisal of such works in light of Canada’s distinctive problems and opportunities is overdue.

Canadian law schools and philosophy departments have sought to keep up with this development by hiring, in recent years, a number of criminal law theorists able to participate in philosophical debate and contribute to its healthy development. The result has been a significant deepening of Canadian scholarship in the philosophy of criminal law, both in relation to Charter-related issues and broader problématiques, since the time that the Law Commissions last explored these fundamental issues. Criminal law theory is now well and alive in Canada and, thus, no longer to be associated exclusively with the older British, German, or American traditions.

This Canadian momentum is not only being felt in respect of the study of domestic criminal law. Because of Canada’s leadership in international criminal law, both at the level of the International Criminal Court and of specific war crimes tribunals, Canadian legal theorists have also begun to turn their attention to international criminal law per se, building on their domestic expertise. Transnational issues that exceed the jurisdictional sphere of international criminal law have also started to capture the attention our theorists.

The time has come to capitalize on this rapidly developing expertise and bring together leading Canadian theorists of domestic and international criminal law for a conference on Rethinking Criminal Law Theory: New Canadian Perspectives in the Philosophy of Domestic, Transnational, and International Criminal Law. The papers presented at the conference will be published as an edited collection (F. Tanguay-Renaud & J. Stribopoulos, eds., Hart Publishing, 2011) and constitute what is hoped will become an enduring contribution to worldwide theorizing about criminal law.

Conference Program

See attached file.


For any further queries, please contact the conference organizers: Prof. François Tanguay-Renaud ( and Prof. James Stribopoulos (