Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

  • Harrison Robertson Professor of Law
  • Joel B. Piassick Research Professor of Law

Kimberly Kessler Ferzan joined the Law School in 2014 after serving on the faculty of Rutgers University, School of Law Camden since 2000, most recently as Distinguished Professor of Law. At Rutgers, Ferzan received the campus-wide Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010, and she was selected as Professor of the Year by the Classes of 2004 and 2010. Ferzan teaches criminal law, evidence, advanced criminal law, and advanced law and philosophy seminars. She is also affiliated faculty with the University's Philosophy Department.

Ferzan's work focuses on criminal law theory. She is the co-editor in chief of Law and Philosophy, and is also on the editorial boards of Legal Theory and Criminal Law and Philosophy. She is the author of numerous articles, and the co-author of Crime and Culpability: A Theory of Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press), with Larry Alexander and Stephen Morse. Her paper, "Beyond Crime and Commitment," was selected for the 2013 American Philosophical Association's Berger Memorial Prize, for the best paper written in law and philosophy for the prior two years, and her paper, "Beyond Intention," was selected for the 2006 Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum in the category of criminal law.

Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2000, Ferzan clerked for Judge Marvin Katz in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and then worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section, investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses committed by federal, state and local officials. She also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania law schools. For the academic year 2012-13, Ferzan was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow at Princeton's University Center for Human Values.

Scholarship Profile: "Rethinking the Foundations of Criminal Law"


  • J.D.
    University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • B.A.
    University of North Carolina


Reflections on Crime and Culpability: Problems and Puzzles (with Larry Alexander) (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore (co-edited with Stephen Morse) (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Crime and Culpability: A Theory of Criminal Law (with Larry Alexander and Stephen J. Morse) (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Criminal Law Conversations (co-editor with Paul H. Robinson and Stephen P. Garvey) (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Articles, Book Chapters, and Review Essays

"Consent and Coercion," Ariz. St. L.J. (forthcoming).

"Defending Honor and Beyond: Reconsidering the Relationship between Seemingly Futile Defense and Permissible Harming, " (2018).

“Patty Hearst Reconsidered: Personal Identity in the Criminal Law,” 15 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 367 (2018).
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“Probing the Depths of the Responsible Corporate Officer’s Duty,” 12 Crim. L. & Phil. 455 (2018).

“The Bluff: The Power of Insincere Actions,” 23 Legal Theory 168 (2017).

“How to Think About Rape (Like a Lawyer)” (with Peter Westen), 11 Crim. L. & Phil. 759 (2017).

“Omissions, Acts, and the Duty to Rescue,” in Dana Kay Nelkin and Samuel C. Rickless, eds., The Ethics and Law of Omissions 217 (Oxford University Press 2017).

“Consent, Culpability, and the Law of Rape,” 13 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 397 (2016).
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“Self-Defense: Tell Me Moore,” in Kimberly Kessler Ferzan & Stephen J. Morse, eds., Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore 219 (Oxford University Press, 2016).

“Forfeiture and Self-Defense,” in Christian Coons & Michael Weber, eds., The Ethics of Self-Defense 233 (Oxford University Press, 2016).

"Intentional Content and Non-Combatant Immunity: When Has One Intentionally Killed a Non-Combatant?," 4 Methode: Analytic Perspectives 88 (2015).

"Representational Content’s Relevance to War: A Reply to Husak," 4 Methode: Analytic Perspectives 116 (2015).

“Of Weevils and Witches: What Can We Learn from the Ghost of Responsibility Past? A Commentary on Lacey’s ‘Jurisprudence, History, and the Institutional Quality of Law,’” 101 Va. L. Rev. 947 (2015).

“On Jeffrie Murphy’s ‘Involuntary Acts and Criminal Liability’,” 125 Ethics 1119 (2015).

“Confused Culpability, Contrived Causation, and the Collapse of Tort Theory” (with Larry Alexander), in John Oberdiek, ed., Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts 406 (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Moving Beyond Crime and Commitment,” APA Newsl. on Phil. & L., Spring 2014, at 1.

“Preventive Justice and the Presumption of Innocence,” 8 Crim. L. & Phil. 505 (2014).

“Thinking through the ‘Third Way’: The Normative and Conceptual Space Beyond Crime and Commitment,” APA Newsl. on Phil. & L., Spring 2014, at 16.

“Fletcher on the Fault of Not Knowing” (with Larry Alexander), in Russell L. Christopher, ed., Fletcher’s Essays on Criminal Law 93 (Oxford University Press, 2013).

“Homicide,” in Hugh LaFollette, ed., International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

“Prevention, Wrongdoing, and the Harm Principle’s Breaking Point,” 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 685 (2013) (reviewing A.P. Simester and Andreas von Hirsch, Crimes, Harms, and Wrongs: On the Principles of Criminalisation (2011)).

“Provocateurs,” 7 Crim. L. & Phil. 597 (2013).

“Rethinking The Ends of Harm,” 32 Law & Phil. 177 (2013).

“Culpable Aggression: The Basis for Moral Liability to Defensive Killing,” 9 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 669 (2012).

“Danger: The Ethics of Preemptive Action” (with Larry Alexander), 9 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 637 (2012).

“Ferzander’s Surrebuttal” (with Larry Alexander), 6 Crim. L. & Phil. 463 (2012).

“Iconoclasts? Who, Us? A Reply to Dolinko” (with Larry Alexander), 6 Crim. L. & Phil. 281 (2012).

“‘Moore or Less’ Causation and Responsibility” (with Larry Alexander), 6 Crim. L. & Phil. 81 (2012) (reviewing Michael S. Moore, Causation and Responsibility: An Essay in Law, Morals and Metaphysics (2009)).

“Plotting Premeditation’s Demise,” 75:2 Law & Contemp. Probs. 83 (2012).

“Risk and Inchoate Crimes: Retribution or Prevention?” (with Larry Alexander), in G.R. Sullivan & Ian Dennis, eds., Seeking Security: Pre-Empting the Commission of Criminal Harms 103 (Hart, 2012).

“Will the Real Paul Robinson Please Stand Up? Robinson’s Conflicting Criminal Code,” 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 237 (2012).

“Beyond Crime and Commitment: Justifying Liberty Deprivations of the Dangerous and Responsible,” 96 Minn. L. Rev. 141 (2011).

“Beyond the Special Part” (with Larry Alexander), in R.A. Duff & Stuart P. Green, eds., Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law 253 (Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Inchoate Crimes at the Prevention/Punishment Divide,” 48 San Diego L. Rev. 1273 (2011).

“Introduction: Symposium on Michael Moore’s Causation and Responsibility,” 42 Rutgers L.J. 295 (2011).

“Justification and Excuse,” in John Deigh & David Dolinko, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Philosophy of Criminal Law 239 (Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Self-Defense, Permissions, and the Means Principle: A Reply to Quong,” 8 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 503 (2011).

“The Unsolved Mysteries of Causation and Responsibility,” 42 Rutgers L.J. 347 (2011).

“Intention,” in Dennis Patterson, ed., A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory 632 (Blackwell, 2d ed. 2010).

“A Planet by Any Other Name,” 109 Mich. L. Rev. 1011 (2010) (reviewing Neil de Grasse Tyson, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet (2009)).

“Response to Critics” (with Larry Alexander), 29 Law & Phil. 483 (2010).

“Against Negligence Liability” (with Larry Alexander), in Paul. H. Robinson et al. eds., Criminal Law Conversations 273 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“Arson and the Special Part,” 3 Crim. L. & Phil. 97 (2009).

“Can’t Sue; Can Kill,” in Paul. H. Robinson et al. eds., Criminal Law Conversations 398 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“Is There a Method to the Madness? Why Creative and Counterintuitive Proposals Are Counterproductive” (with Michael B. Dorff), in Mark D. White, ed., Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics 21 (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

“Justifying Killing in Self-Defence” (with Arlette Grabczynska), 99 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 235 (2009) (reviewing Fiona Leverick, Killing in Self-Defence (2006)).

“The Perils of Forgetting Fairness” (with Michael B. Dorff), 59 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 597 (2009).

“Results Don’t Matter” (with Larry Alexander), in Paul. H. Robinson et al. eds., Criminal Law Conversations 147 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“Sex as Contract,” in Paul. H. Robinson et al. eds., Criminal Law Conversations 308 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“The Structure of Criminal Law,” 28 Crim. Just. Ethics 223 (2009) (reviewing R. A. Duff, Answering for Crime: Responsibility and Liability in the Criminal Law (2007)).

“The Values and Costs of Innocence,” in Paul. H. Robinson et al. eds., Criminal Law Conversations 419 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

“Beyond Intention,” 29 Cardozo L. Rev. 1147 (2008). SSRN

“Culpable Acts of Risk Creation” (with Larry Alexander), 5 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 375 (2008).

“Living on the Edge: The Margins of Legal Personhood: Symposium Foreword,” 39 Rutgers L.J. 237 (2008).

“Self-Defense and the State,” 5 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 449 (2008).

“Act, Agency, and Indifference: The Foundations of Criminal Responsibility,” 10 New Crim. L. Rev. 441 (2007) (reviewing Victor Tadros, Criminal Responsibility (2005)).

“Holistic Culpability,” 28 Cardozo L. Rev. 2523 (2007).

“Clarifying Consent: Peter Westen’s The Logic of Consent,” 25 Law & Phil. 193 (2006) (reviewing Peter Westen, The Logic of Consent: The Diversity and Deceptiveness of Consent as a Defense to Criminal Conduct (2004)).

“Murder After the Merger: A Commentary on Finkelstein,” 9 Buff. Crim. L. Rev. 561 (2006).

“A Reckless Response to Rape: A Reply to Ayres and Baker,” 39 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 637 (2006).

“Justifications and Excuses: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives: Symposium Foreword,” 24 Law & Phil. 547 (2005).

“Justifying Self-Defense,” 24 Law & Phil. 711 (2005).

“Defending Imminence: From Battered Women to Iraq,” 46 Ariz. L. Rev. 213 (2004).

“Some Sound and Fury from Kaplow and Shavell,” 23 Law & Phil. 73 (2004) (reviewing Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, Fairness versus Welfare (2002)).

“Torture, Necessity, and the Union of Law and Philosophy,” 36 Rutgers L.J. 183 (2004).

“Don't Abandon the Model Penal Code Yet! Thinking Through Simons’s Rethinking,” 6 Buff. Crim. L. Rev. 185 (2002).

“Opaque Recklessness,” 91 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 597 (2001).

“Mens Rea and Inchoate Crimes,” 87 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 1138 (1997) (with Larry Alexander).

Comment, “The Role of Luck in the Criminal Law,” 142 U. Pa. L. Rev. 2183 (1994).

Book Reviews and Podcasts

“Finding Old Puzzles in New Places,” Jotwell, Feb. 16, 2015 (reviewing Adam Hosein, “Are Justified Aggressors a Threat to the Rights Theory of Self-Defense?,” in Helen Frowe & Gerald Lang, eds., How We Fight: Ethics in War (2014)).

“Kim Ferzan on Preventive Justice,” Public Ethics Radio, Apr. 27, 2013.

Review of Guyora Binder, Felony Murder (2012), Crim. L. & Crim. Just. Books, July 2013.

“When to Punish,” Jotwell, Nov. 8, 2013 (commentary on Patrick Tomlin, “Time and Retribution,” 33 Law & Phil. 655 (2014)).

“Professor Tadros’ Wild Ride: Duty, Defense, Deterrence and the Criminal Law,” Jotwell, Oct. 15, 2012 (reviewing Victor Tadros, The Ends of Harm: The Moral Foundations of Criminal Law (2011)).

Review of Leo Katz, Why the Law Is So Perverse (2011), Crim. L. & Crim. Just. Books, May 2012.

“Does Hard Determinism Require ‘Funishment’ Instead of Punishment?,” Jotwell, Oct. 28, 2011) (commentary on Saul Smilanksy, “Hard Determinism and Punishment: A Practical Reductio,” 30 Law & Phil. 353 (2011)).

“Shining the Light on Negligence,” Jotwell, Oct. 8, 2010 (reviewing George Sher, Who Knew? Responsibility without Awareness (2009)).

Current Courses

All Courses

Criminal Law
Advanced Criminal Law: From Theory to Practice
Contract Theory

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