The Circle of Criminal Responsibility. Juridicism in Klaus Günther’s Discourse Theory of Law

In Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 100.4 (2014), 413–428.
Responsibility

Abstract

Klaus Günther’s discourse theory of law links the concept of criminal responsibility with the legitimacy of democratic law. Because attributions of criminal responsibility are always aimed at a person, they contain an implicit conception of the person. In a democracy under the rule of law, Günther argues, this conception of a person must be understood, as a “deliberative person”, a free and autonomous person capable of being both the addressee and the author of legal norms. The “deliberative person” is the conceptual core of criminal responsibility, yet Günther develops it using a concept of “communicative accountability” modeled on the concept of criminal responsibility that it is designed to explicate. My aim is to bring this circular grounding of criminal responsibility into view and argue that Günther’s discourse theory of law is based on a legalized picture of discourse.