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Negligence And Culpability: Reflections On Alexander And Ferzan, Mitchell N. Berman Oct 2022

Negligence And Culpability: Reflections On Alexander And Ferzan, Mitchell N. Berman

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Philosophers of criminal punishment disagree about whether infliction of punishment for negligence can be morally justified. One contending view holds that it cannot be because punishment requires culpability and culpability requires, at a minimum, advertence to the facts that make one’s conduct wrongful. Larry Alexander and Kim Ferzan are prominent champions of this position. This essay challenges that view and their arguments for it. Invoking a conceptual distinction between an agent’s being blameworthy for an act and their deserving punishment (or suffering) for that act, it explains that an agent can be blameworthy for negligent conduct, and thus liable to …


Introduction To The Structure And Limits Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Joshua Samuel Barton Jul 2014

Introduction To The Structure And Limits Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Joshua Samuel Barton

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The book The Structure and Limits of Criminal Law (Ashgate) collects and reprints classic articles on three topics: the conceptual structure of criminal law doctrine, the conduct necessary and that sufficient for criminal liability, and the offender culpability and blameworthiness necessary and that sufficient for criminal liability. The collection includes articles by H.L.A. Hart, Sanford Kadish, George Fletcher, Herbert Packer, Norval Morris, Gordon Hawkins, Andrew von Hirsch, Bernard Harcourt, Richard Wasserstrom, Andrew Simester, John Darley, Kent Greenawalt, and Paul Robinson. This essay serves as an introduction to the collection, explaining how each article fits into the larger debate and giving …


Attempts, In Language And In Law, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2012

Attempts, In Language And In Law, Mitchell N. Berman

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On what grounds does the law punish attempted offenses? The dominant answer is that the law punishes attempts to commit an offense precisely because they are attempts (extra-legally), and it is true as a general moral principle that if one should not X, one should not attempt to X. If this is right, then the proper contours of the law of attempts should track the contours of what are attempts (extra-legally). At least to a first approximation, that is, law should track metaphysics. Call this the “Attempt Theory” of attempt liability. Gideon Yaffe’s recent book, "Attempts," is a rigorous and …


Intuitions Of Justice: Implications For Criminal Law And Justice Policy, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley Jan 2007

Intuitions Of Justice: Implications For Criminal Law And Justice Policy, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley

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Recent social science research suggests that many if not most judgements about criminal liability and punishment for serious wrongdoing are intuitional rather than reasoned. Further, such intuitions of justice are nuanced and widely shared, even though they concern matters that seem quite complex and subjective. While people may debate the source of these intuitions, it seems clear that, whatever their source, it must be one that is insulated from the influence of much of human experience because, if it were not, one would see differences in intuitions reflecting the vast differences in human existence across demographics and societies. This article …


The Criminal-Civil Distinction And The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1996

The Criminal-Civil Distinction And The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson

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The communist Chinese have distinct criminal and civil systems, as do the democratic Swiss, and the monarchist Saudis.1 The criminal-civil distinction also is a basic organizing device for Islamic Pakistan, Catholic Ireland, Hindu India, and the atheistic former Soviet Union, industrialized Germany, rural Papua New Guinea, the tribal Bedouins, wealthy Singapore, impoverished Somalia, developing Thailand, newly organized Ukraine, and the ancient Romans. Apparently every society sufficiently developed to have a formal legal system usesthe criminal-civil distinction as an organizing principle. Why? Why has every society felt it necessary to create a system to impose criminal liability distinct from civil liability?


A Functional Analysis Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1994

A Functional Analysis Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson

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The criminal law has three primary functions. First, it must define and announce the conduct that is prohibited (or required) by the criminal law. Such rules of conduct, as they have been called, provide ex ante direction to members of the community as to the conduct that must be avoided (or that must be performed) upon pain of criminal sanction. This may be termed the rule articulation function of the doctrine. When a violation of the rules of conduct occurs, the criminal law takes on a different role. It must decide whether the violation merits criminal liability. This second function, …


Legality And Discretion In The Distribution Of Criminal Sanctions, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1988

Legality And Discretion In The Distribution Of Criminal Sanctions, Paul H. Robinson

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The judicial system now responds to criminal conduct in two rather divergent steps. A judge or jury first determines if a defendant should be held liable for a criminal offense. If so, then the judge or jury goes on to choose a penalty. Precise rules, designed to ensure fairness and predictability, govern the first stage, liability assignment. In the second stage, sentencing, however, judges and juries exercise broad discretion in meting out sanctions. In this Article, Professor Robinson argues that both liability assignment and sentencing are part of a single process of punishing criminal behavior and should be made more …


Causing The Conditions Of One's Own Defense: A Study In The Limits Of Theory In Criminal Law Doctrine, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1985

Causing The Conditions Of One's Own Defense: A Study In The Limits Of Theory In Criminal Law Doctrine, Paul H. Robinson

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One widely-stated goal of criminal law theory is to create the set of rules that best implements our collective sense of justice. To reach this goal, the theorist continuously adjusts his theory so that it generates rules that better reflect our fundamental notions of justice. These rules, moreover, must function as workable doctrine, which in the context of criminal law means precise statutory provisions. It is this process of theoretical refinement and translation that is the topic of this article. Can good theory generate results that approximate our collective sense of justice? Can the theoretical refinements be translated into workable …


Criminal Liability For Omissions: A Brief Summary And Critique Of The Law In The United States, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1984

Criminal Liability For Omissions: A Brief Summary And Critique Of The Law In The United States, Paul H. Robinson

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Criminal liability for an omission is imposed in two distinct situations. First, such liability is often imposed explicitly in offense definitions that punish a failure to perform certain conduct. For example, it is an offense to fail to file a tax return. Second, it is also common for a general provision, apart from an offense definition, to create omission liability for an offense defined in commission terms. Parents, for example, are generally given the legal duty to care for their children. A parent may be held liable for criminal homicide, then, where death results from a failure to perform this …


A Theory Of Justification: Societal Harm As A Prerequisite For Criminal Liability, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1975

A Theory Of Justification: Societal Harm As A Prerequisite For Criminal Liability, Paul H. Robinson

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All would agree that the criminal law seeks to prevent harmful results rather than to punish evil intent that produces no harm. If one views deterrence as the proper function of the criminal law, a harm requirement is appropriate. To the extent that the criminal law punishes nonharmful conduct, it weakens the stigma and deterrent effect of criminal conviction for harmful conduct. If a defendant who has caused no harm feels that he is punished unjustifiably, rehabilitative efforts will be hampered. Indeed, one may ask: If no harm has been caused, what harm will be deterred by punishment, and what …