This piece is a review essay on Victor Tadros’s The Ends of Harm. Tadros rejects retributive desert but believes punishment can be justified instrumentally without succumbing to the problems of thoroughgoing consequentialism and endorsing using people as means. He believes he can achieve these results through extension of the right of self-defense. I argue that Tadros fails in this endeavor: he has a defective account of the means principle; his rejection of desert leads to gross mismatches of punishment and culpability; (...) and he cannot account for punishment of inchoate crimes. (shrink)
My contribution to this symposium is short and negative: There are no theoretical problems that attach to one’s causing the conditions that permit him to claim a defense to some otherwise criminal act. If one assesses the culpability of an actor at each of the various times he acts in a course of conduct, then it is obvious that he can be nonculpable at T2 but culpable at T1, and that a nonculpable act at T2 has no bearing on whether (...) an actor was culpable at T1 when he caused the circumstances that are exculpatory with respect to his act (or conduct) at T2. Moreover, as I interpret the Model Penal Code, it gets matters close to right on this point. (shrink)
The question of when other people’s bad acts belong on our moral ledger arises in a number of different scenarios. Each scenario has received some philosophical attention, but no one has noted the structural similarities of these various scenarios or the implications of a proposed approach to one for how the others should be approached. That is the ambition of this article. In it, seemingly disparate moral phenomena—blunt rules, preemptive restrictions, moral blackmail, complicity, retreat and proportional response, and the duty (...) to rescue from a peril one has caused—are shown to have similar structures and thus to require similar moral approaches. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Criminal Law collects 17 of Doug Husak’s articles on legal theory, 16 of which have been previously published, spanning a period of over two decades. In sum, these 17 articles make a huge and lasting contribution to criminal law theory. There is much wisdom contained in them; and I find surprisingly little to disagree with, making my job as a critical reviewer quite challenging. Most of the points on which Doug and I disagree can be found in (...) my other published work in this field, so I will have little to say about them, except where they illuminate those few points of disagreement that arise in the particular essays I discuss. Most of what I will say will be in accord with Doug’s views and will principally explore their wider implications. The 17 essays in the book cover too many and too varied topics for one review essay. Therefore, I will focus on just three of them: “Rapes Without Rapists: Consent and Reasonable Mistake” (co-authored by George C. Thomas); “Mistakes of Law and Culpability”; and “Already Punished Enough.” Although I generally agree with the upshots of Doug’s arguments in these chapters, I think the issues they raise are worth further exploration. (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe's Attempts is a masterfully executed philosophical investigation of what it means to attempt something. Yaffe is obviously motivated by the fact that the criminal law punishes attempted crimes, and he believes that his philosophical analysis can shed light on and be used to criticize the law's understanding of those crimes. I focus exclusively on the relevance of Yaffe's philosophical analysis of attempts to the criminal law of attempts. I assume that Yaffe's account of what it is to attempt (...) something is basically correct and ask whether the criminal law uses in the way Yaffe uses it, and whether it should use Yaffe's conception of an attempt. I conclude that a lot of criminal-law doctrine, including, very importantly, the influential Model Penal Code's treatment of attempts, is inconsistent with Yaffe's conception of attempts. Because Yaffe is principally interested in what it means to attempt something rather than in the criminal law's treatment of attempts, I believe he misanalyzes the problem of factual versus legal impossibility. And Yaffe's chapter on inherently impossible attempts concludes by positing a quite paradoxical type of criminal attempt, one that is indeed an attempt but for which the defendant should not be convicted because the evidence of its commission is insufficient. I find Yaffe's argument to this effect opaque and therefore unconvincing. (shrink)
In this article I take up a conceptual question: What is the distinction between ‘the law’ and the behavior the law regulates, or, as I formulate it, the distinction between what is ‘inside’ the law and what is ‘outside’ it? That conceptual question is in play in (at least) three different doctrinal domains: the constitutional law doctrines regarding the limits on the delegation of legislative powers; the criminal law doctrines regarding mistakes of law; and the constitutional rights doctrines that turn (...) on the distinction between state action and the acts of non-state actors. I argue that legal doctrines should turn solely on normative considerations and should not turn on answers to conceptual questions. However, the doctrines I discuss appear to turn on the conceptual question regarding what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the law. I show how each of these doctrinal areas appears to raise this conceptual issue, and I explain how the doctrines might or might not escape being held hostage to conceptual controversy. (shrink)
Iconoclasts? Who, Us? A Reply to Dolinko Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11572-012-9143-3 Authors Larry Alexander, San Diego, CA, USA Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Camden, NJ, USA Journal Criminal Law and Philosophy Online ISSN 1871-9805 Print ISSN 1871-9791.
A constitution is, as Article VI of the United States Constitution declares, the fundamental law of the land, supreme as a legal matter over any other nonconstitutional law. But that almost banal statement raises a number of theoretically vexed issues. What is law? How is constitutional law to be distinguished from nonconstitutional law? How do morality and moral rights fit into the picture? And what are the implications of the answers to these questions for such questions as how and by (...) whom should constitutions be interpreted? These are the issues that I shall address. (shrink)
This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organized around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they ...
Orthodox criminal law doctrine treats mistakes of law and mistakes of fact differently for purposes of both exculpation and inculpation. Kenneth Simonsâ paper in general defends this orthodoxy. I have earlier criticized the criminal lawâs attempt to distinguish mistakes of law from mistakes of fact, and I continue to maintain, in opposition to Simons, that the distinction is problematic.
In the moral realm, our deontic judgments are usually (always?) binary. An act (or omission) is either morally forbidden or morally permissible. 1 Yet the determination of an act's deontic status frequently turns on the existence of properties that are matters of degree. In what follows I shall give several examples of binary moral judgments that turn on scalar properties, and I shall claim that these examples should puzzle us. How can the existence of a property to a specific degree (...) demarcate a boundary between an act's being morally forbidden and its not being morally forbidden? Why aren't our moral judgments of acts scalar in the way that the properties on which those judgments are based are scalar, so that acts, like states of affairs, can be morally better or worse rather than right or wrong? I conceive of this inquiry as operating primarily within the realm of normative theory. Presumably it will give aid and comfort to consequentialists, who have no trouble mapping their binary categories onto scalar properties. For example, a straightforward act utilitarian, for whom one act out of all possible acts is morally required (and hence permissible) and all others morally forbidden, can, in theory at least, provide an answer to every one of the puzzles I raise. And, in theory, so can all other types of act and rule consequentialists. They will find nothing of interest here beyond embarrassment for their deontological adversaries. The deontologists, however, must meet the challenges of these puzzles. And for them, the puzzles may raise not just normative questions, but questions of moral epistemology and moral ontology. Just how do we know that the act consequentialist's way of, say, trading off lives against lives is wrong? For example, do we merely intuit that taking one innocent, uninvolved person's life to save two others is wrong? Can our method of reflective equilibrium work if we have no theory by which to rationalize our intuitions? And what things in the world make it true, if it is true, that one may not make the act consequentialist's tradeoff? I do not provide any answers to these questions any more than I provide answers to the normative ones. But they surely lurk in the background. (shrink)
Freedom of association, as I understand it, refers to the liberty a person possesses to enter into relationships with others—for any and all purposes, for a momentary or long-term duration, by contract, consent, or acquiescence. It likewise refers to the liberty to refuse to enter into such relationships or to terminate them when not otherwise compelled by one's voluntary assumption of an obligation to maintain the relationship. Freedom of association thus is a quite capacious liberty.
This is the second volume in a sub-series of specially commissioned collaborative volumes on key topics at the heart of contemporary philosophy of law that will be appearing regularly within Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Law. A distinguished international team of legal theorists examine the issue of constitutionalism and pose such foundational questions as: why have a constitution? How do we know what the constitution of a country really is? How should a constitution be interpreted? Why should one generation feel (...) bound by the constitution of an earlier one? The volume will be of particular importance to those in philosophy, law, political science and international relations interested in what kinds of constitutions should be adopted in countries without them, and involved in debates about constitutional interpretation. (shrink)
American criminal law reflects the absence of any general duty of Good Samaritanism. Nonetheless, there are some circumstances in which it imposes affirmative duties to aid others. In those circumstances, however, the duty to aid is canceled whenever aiding subjects the actor to a certain level of risk or sacrifice, a level that can be less than the risk or sacrifice faced by the beneficiary if not aided. In this article, I demonstrate that this approach to limiting affirmative duties to (...) aid encounters the same problem of moral arbitrariness as does a moral catastrophe override of deontological side-constraints. (shrink)
I examine the "practical reason" approach to statutory interpretation, according to which the interpreter should look not only to text, legislative history, and other indicia of legislative intent, but also to post-enactment history and current values. I argue that if "practical reason" represents an epistemology of statutory interpretation, its proponents owe us an account of statutory ontology, without which their claims cannot be evaluated. On the other hand, if the practical reason approach claims to be itself an account of statutory (...) ontology, then it is implausible. Facts and values cannot be ontologically blended in the way the approach describes. (shrink)
In Law's Empire Dworkin remains committed to carving out a middleground between natural law and legal positivism. But natural law andlegal positivism are best viewed as complementary answers to differ-ent questions, There is no middle ground between them. Nor is thequestion that Dworkin's Integrity asks one that could be coherentlyanswered i f it were an important question. Fortunately, it is not.
Although discussions of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice generally refer to Rawls’ two principles of justice, and although Rawls himself labels his principles “the two principles of justice”, Rawls actually sets forth three distinct principles in the following lexical order: the liberty principle, the fair equality of opportunity principle, and the difference principle. Rawls argues at some length for the priority of the liberty principle over the other two. On the other hand, Rawls offers hardly any argument at all (...) for the priority of the fair equality of opportunity principle over the difference principle. In this article I will argue that making the fair equality of opportunity principle separate from and lexically prior to the difference principle is both intuitively unattractive and inconsistent with Rawls’ method of deriving principles of justice from the choices of rational contractors in the original position. (shrink)
Anthony Kronman has argued that libertarians cannot distinguish non-arbitrarily between legitimate and illegitimate advantage-taking in contractual relations except by reference to a liberal, wealth-redistributive standard Kronman calls paretianism. We argue to the contrary that libertarians need not concede that any advantage-taking in contracts is legitimate and thus need not be liberal paretians with respect to advantage-taking.
Retributivism is generally thought to forbid the punishment of the innocent, even if such punishment would produce otherwise good results, such as deterrence. It has recently been argued that because capital punishment always entails the risk of executing an innocent person, instituting capital punishment is tantamount to intentionally taking innocent lives and therefore cannot be justified on retributive grounds. I argue that there are several versions of retributivism, only one of which might categorically forbid risking punishing innocent persons. I also (...) argue that our moral practices reveal either that we do not hold this particular version of retributivism, or that we reject equating risking punishing the innocent with intentionally doing so. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A9102008 00005. (shrink)