The Concept of Lichnost ' in Criminal Law Theory, 1860s–1900s

TitleThe Concept of Lichnost ' in Criminal Law Theory, 1860s–1900s
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsNethercott, F
JournalStudies in East European Thought
Abstract

This essay discusses criminal law theories in late Imperial Russia. It argues that, although the political climate of Reform and Counter Reform effectively undermined attempts to implement new legislation premised on the idea of the ‘{}rights-enabled person’ ( pravovaya lichnost ’), paradoxically, it fostered the growth of juridical scholarship. Russian criminal law theorists engaged critically with Western juridical science, which, beginning in the 1870s, witnessed a shift away from absolutist theories inspired by the classics of philosophical idealism towards various strains of positivism arguing for the restoration of the person as a concrete, physiological being. However, while Russian scholars were drawn to these new trends of criminal anthropology and the sociology of crime, they were also obliged to take stock of an indigenous legal culture that scarcely differentiated between pravo and zakon , together with a long tradition of customary practices that equated crime and punishment with sin and redemption.