Possibility, Impossibility and Extraordinariness in Attempts

Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov
University of Surrey
The relationship between possibility / impossibility and attempts is complex. Accounts of the relationship are often marked by a confusion that serves to distort our understanding of the nature of attempts as such. It will be argued below that impossibility is irrelevant to an understanding of attempts. This is not just to say that impossibility should not affect our view of how blameworthy certain defendants are. It is rather to say that the ‘impossibility’ referred to in the context of attempts is just not aboutattempts at all. In contrast, possibility is relevant to an understanding of attempts but its relevance is found to be universal and no normative distinctions among attempts can be made on the basis of possibility. If it can be shown that impossibility is a concept that does not belongtoattempts then it follows that attempts which are treated as different to ‘central cases’ of attempts in virtue of impossibility either, are not different at all or, are different for reasons other than impossibility. If some attempts belong to category then it may be considered that the equal blame that is ordinarily taken to survive impossibility, does not survive these other reasons
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