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Research Canons

Books and articles that are essential to a new academic in various areas of legal inquiry as suggested by contributors to PrawfsBlawg.

Criminal Law Articles

  1. Larry Alexander, The Philosophy of Criminal Law in Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Legal Theory, (Jules L. Coleman, et al. eds. 2004) (also available on SSRN https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=285954; beginners may want to consult; suggested by Dan Markel). 
  2. G.E.M. Anscombe, Modern Moral Philosophy,  33 Philosophy 124 (1958) (suggested by Rick Garnett).
  3. Gary S. Becker, Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach, 76 J. Pol. Econ. 169 (1968) (suggested by Rick Garnett).
  4. Darryl Brown, Plain Meaning, Practice Research, and Culpability: Toward a Theory of Jury Interpretation of Criminal Statutes, 96 Mich. L. Rev. 1199 (1998) (suggested by John).
  5. Meir Dan-Cohen, Decision Rules and Conduct Rules: On Acoustic Separation in Criminal Law, 97 Harv. L. Rev. 625 (1984) (a few great "theory" articles over the years; suggested by Dan Markel; and John). 
  6. Henry M. Hart, The Aims of Criminal Law, 23 Law & Contemp. Prob. 401 (1958) (really good and useful for teaching; suggested by Orin Kerr). 
  7. Mark Kelman, Interpretative Construction in The Substantive Criminal Law, 33 Stan. L. Rev. 591 (1981) (truly a wonderful article; suggested by John).
  8. Dan M. Kahan, What do Alternative Sanctions Mean? 63 U. Chi. L. Rev 591 (1996) (a few great "theory" articles over the years; suggested by Dan Markel). 
  9. Dan Kahan, Secret Ambition of Deterrence, 113 Harv. L. Rev. 413 (1999) (suggested by John).
  10. Victoria Nourse, Passion's Progress: Modern Law Reform and the Provocation Defense, 106 Yale L. J. 1331 (1997) (really good and useful for teaching; suggested by Orin Kerr). 
  11. William J. Stuntz, The Uneasy Relationship between Criminal Procedure and Criminal Justice, 107 Yale L. J. 1 (1997) (a few great "theory" articles over the years; suggested by Dan Markel). 
  12. Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule, Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions, and Life-Life Tradeoffs, 58 Stan. L. Rev. 703. (2005) (would this be an example of a recent "canon" -- namely, everyone in the field is familiar with it and has some opinion on it?  suggested by Matt Bodie). 

Criminal Law Books

  1.  Jeremy Bentham, Cases Unmeet for Punishment, in The Principles of Morals and Legislation (Great Books in Philosophy ed. 1988) (suggested by Kyron Huigens).
  2. Joel Feinberg, The Moral Limits of the Criminal law (1987) (vol. 1: Harm to Others, vol. 2: Offense to Others, vol. 3: Harm to Self, vol. 4: Harmless Wrongdoing; modern classics from the literature in criminal law theory; suggested by Dan Markel and Rick Garnett).
  3. George Fletcher, Rethinking Criminal Law (2000) (occupies an important position at the intersection of theory and practice, traditional and contemporary scholarship, domestic and international thinking; suggested by Tony Dillof and John). 
  4. Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of a Prison (Alan Sheridan trans., Vintage Books 2d ed. 1995)(modern classics from the literature in criminal law theory; suggested by Dan Markel and Rick Garnett).  
  5. Lon L. Fuller, The Morality of Law (Rev. ed. 1994) (suggested by Rick Garnett). 
  6. John Gardner, The Gist of Excuses and Justification and Reasons in Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law (2008) (suggested by Kyron Huigens)
  7. Robert P. George, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (1993) (suggested by Rick Garnett). 
  8. H. L. A. Hart, Legal Responsibility and Excuses in Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law (2d. 2008) (suggested by Kyron Huigens).
  9. Robert P. George, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (1993) (suggested by Rick Garnett). 
  10. H.L.A. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law  (1983) (everyone teaching criminal law ought to read some of H.L.A. Hart's papers on punishment in his Essays on Jurisprudence, in particular those spelling out (for the first time, I believe) the distinction between justifying the practice of punishment and specifying a distribution of punishment. (Hart's own view was that the practice of punishment has a utilitarian justification but that the distribution of punishment must [for this very reason] be based on desert in some form.) Without understanding this distinction anything you'll say about the justification for punishment will almost certainly be confused. Others have made the point since then and developed it in interesting ways but Hart made it with particular clarity; suggested by Matt;modern classics from the literature in criminal law theory; suggested by Dan Markel and Rick Garnett). 
  11. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (2004) (another excellent noncanonical book tracing one family's journey in and out of the prison system; suggested by Laura Appleman).
  12. Narrative, Violence, and the Law: The Essays of Robert Cover (Martha Minow, Michael Ryan, Austin Sarat eds.1993) (suggested by Laura Appleman). 
  13. Michael Moore, Placing Blame: A Theory of the Criminal Law (1998) (modern classics from the literature in criminal law theory; suggested by Dan Markel and Rick Garnett). 
  14. Norval Morris, The Bothel Boy and Other Parables of the Law (1992) (suggested by Fred Moss). 
  15. Jeffrie G. Murphy & Jean Hampton, Forgiveness and Mercy (1990) (modern classics from the literature in criminal law theory; suggested by Dan Markel and Rick Garnett). 
  16. Herbert L. Packer, The Limits of the Criminal Sanction (1968) (really good and useful for teaching; suggested by Orin Kerr; suggested by Orin Kerr). 
  17. Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Mary J. Gregor ed. 2d. 1996) (suggested by Kyron Huigens)
  18. Leo Katz, Bad Acts and Guilty Minds: Conundrums of the Criminal Law (1987) (really good and useful for teaching; suggested by Orin Kerr).  
  19. Roy Porter, A Social History of Madness (1988) (hardly canonical, especially since so many criminal defendants nowadays have some form of mental illness; suggested by Laura Appleman).
  20. Paul Robinson, Criminal Law (2011)  (I, perhaps, am getting too much into the detail of the criminal law, but if one teaches the Model Penal Code, the Paul Robinson's books, Criminal Law, and on Defenses, and his many law review articles on the MPC are essential reading; Commentary to the MCP is also essential; suggested by Fred Moss). 
  21. Paul Robinson, Criminal Law Defenses (1984) (I, perhaps, am getting too much into the detail of the criminal law, but if one teaches the Model Penal Code, the Paul Robinson's books, Criminal Law, and on Defenses, and his many law review articles on the MPC are essential reading; Commentary to the MCP is also essential; suggested by Fred Moss). 
  22. Glanville L. Williams, Criminal Law: the General Part (1985) (suggested by Fred Moss).