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Scottish scholars visit law school
Scottish scholars teaching at law school, Barrett
Visitors Antony Duff
and Sandra Marshall
Two internationally respected scholars in the areas of philosophy of criminal law, politics and morals are sharing their knowledge this semester with students at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and at Barrett, The Honors College.
Antony Duff, head of the philosophy department at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, and Sandra Marshall, a professor in and founding member of the philosophy department at the University of Stirling and former president of the UK Association for Legal and Social Philosophy, arrived at Arizona State University in early October to teach seven-week seminars.
Duff is the Merriam Distinguished Professor at the College of Law, where he's leading six students in a course titled, Answering for Crime. The course, to which the law faculty has been invited, is based on his book,
Answering for Crime: Responsibility and Liability in the Criminal Law
, scheduled to be published in December. Marshall, a Distinguished Research Professor at the College of Law, is teaching a Project Excellence course, Crimes, Trials and Punishment, which delves into the scope and purpose of criminal law, the criminal trial and criminal punishment, to 14 Barrett students. Project Excellence is a collaboration of the College of Law and Barrett, in which honors students are allowed to take certain law courses.
The arrangement with Duff and Marshall, who have authored numerous books and articles, was made at the suggestion of their longtime friend Jeffrie Murphy, Regents' Professor of Law, Philosophy & Religious Studies at the College of Law.
"When I found out Sandra and Antony were interested in visiting an American university, I thought it would be enriching to work out something for them here, and our dean (Patricia White) was very supportive," Murphy said.
"Antony is the most distinguished living person doing the philosophy of criminal law, and I have learned more from interacting with him and reading his research than from anyone else," Murphy said. "And Sandra is a leader among scholars working in moral, political and legal philosophy."
While in Arizona, they've traveled extensively, visited old colleagues at ASU, and viewed many programs at the College of Law. They've taught students and learned from them, as well.
"They bring to class a different range of assumptions, just by their American experiences and by being part of a different legal system," said Marshall, who was deputy principal (similar to president) of the University of Stirling for 10 years. "I thought it was quite impressive that there were 14 students interested in taking something extra, and halfway through the semester at that."
Duff's students have read manuscripts of his new book and taken turns summarizing the chapters in class, sometimes with faculty members present. He and Marshall remarked about the students' ability and willingness to challenge ideas in an environment some might find intimidating.
David Ferrucci, a second-year law student, said Duff's seminar is a good example of what sets the College of Law apart from others: the good number of scholars with expertise in both law and philosophy.
"Any time you have an opportunity to take a thoughtful approach to the study of law, it makes you a better student," Ferrucci said. "You learn not just the law, but about the law. Why the law is the way it is. And by studying with Professor Duff, you get to think about the way the law in a particular area should be."
Duff argues in favor of understanding responsibility as being answerable to a person or a body with the standing to call another person to account. This idea should be applied to criminal responsibility by asking for what we should be criminally answerable and to whom, he said. "If we do this, we can throw new light on the structures of criminal law, and on a range of issues about the grounds and limits of criminal liability," he said.
By encouraging law students to think about the values underlying the system of laws, Murphy said, Duff is helping them become better lawyers who can be more sensitive to those values, too.
Chelsea Durkin, a third-year law student, said Duff has encouraged them to think outside the box on certain tenets of law, ideas that are emphasized in his book, which she said is well-written and accessible.
"It gives some context and depth to what we learned in criminal law, and it gives a unique perspective on the `why' behind criminal acts that you don't have time to ask when you're in a criminal-law class," Durkin said. "It's been a great class because we have been free from the constraints of grades and competition that can curb the way you think about things."
Duff and Marshall now are familiar faces on the College of Law campus, and have attended several programs and lectures on topics as wide-ranging as 13th century English legal history to the continuing need for affirmative action in the United States. They've also visited the Grand Canyon, Jerome and Payson and, closer to home, the Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright's home at Taliesin West.
The pair said they've been welcomed by all corners of both colleges, from Lexi Noice, who helped Marshall stay organized at Barrett, to Allan Crouch, who gave them occasional lifts on the law-school's motorized carts, to Suzanne Morris, who helped with complex paperwork, to Jan Spence in Dean White's office.
Marshall and Duff will finish teaching on Nov. 28 and return to Scotland on Dec. 11. With Lindsay Farmer, a law professor at the University of Glasgow, and Victor Tadros, a law professor at the University of Warwick, they'll soon begin a four-year project on criminalization, utilizing a $1.25 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in England. Also,
The Trial on Trial (3): Towards a Normative Theory of the Criminal Trial
, written by the four colleagues, is due to be published in December.