Published as Chapter 31 in The Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law, Markus D. Dubber & Tatjana Hörnle, eds.
This review of the development of homicide law in England and the United States shows that contemporary law reflects the sustained influence of a utilitarian reform movement. That movement organized legal thought around a conception of human action as risking or causing results, and a conception of the function of law as minimizing cost. Within this framework, homicide was conceptualized as the expected causation of death. Traditional conceptions of homicide emphasizing manifestly violent acts or antisocial motives came to be seen as archaic and confused. During this development, requirements of violence were first reinterpreted as evidentiary presumptions of culpability, and then criticized as formalistic legal fictions. In this way homicide evolved from a crime of killing to a crime of causing.
Oxford University Press
Criminal Law, Legal History, Legal Theory, Homicide, Comparative Law
Criminal Law | Law | Legal History
Guyora Binder, Homicide, in The Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law 702 (Markus D. Dubber & Tatjana Hörnle, eds., Oxford University Press 2014).