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Public Law and Legal Theory

Culpability

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Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2021

Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse

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This article was presented at “Guilty Minds: A Virtual Conference on Mens Rea and Criminal Justice Reform” at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It is forthcoming in Arizona State Law Journal Volume 53, Issue 2.

The thesis of this article is simple: As long as we maintain the current folk psychological conception of ourselves as intentional and potentially rational creatures, as people and not simply as machines, mental states will inevitably remain central to ascriptions of culpability and responsibility more generally. It is also desirable. Nonetheless, we are in a condition of unprecedented internal ...


A Brief Summary And Critique Of Criminal Liability Rules For Intoxicated Conduct, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2018

A Brief Summary And Critique Of Criminal Liability Rules For Intoxicated Conduct, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay provides an overview of the legal issues relating to intoxication, including the effect of voluntary intoxication in imputing to an offender a required offense culpable state of mind that he may not actually have had at the time of the offense; the effect of involuntary intoxication in providing a defense by negating a required offense culpability element or by satisfying the conditions of a general excuse; the legal effect of alcoholism or addiction in rendering intoxication involuntary; and the limitation on using alcoholism or addiction in this way if the offender can be judged to be reasonably responsible ...


How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner Feb 2017

How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?

A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults ...


Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2017

Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is common for criminal law scholars from outside the United States to discuss the “American rule” and compare it to the rule of other countries. As this volume makes clear, however, there is no such thing as an “American rule.” Because each of the states, plus the District of Columbia and the federal system, have their own criminal law, there are fifty-two American criminal codes.

American criminal law scholars know this, of course, but they too commonly speak of the “general rule” as if it reflects some consensus or near consensus position among the states. But the truth is ...


Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse Jun 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This invited commentary for Journal of Law & the Biosciences considers four empirical studies previously published in the journal of the reception of neuroscientific evidence in criminal cases in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, and the Netherlands. There are conceded methodological problems with all, but the data are nonetheless instructive and suggestive. The thesis of the comment is that the courts are committing the same errors that have bedeviled the reception of psychiatric and psychological evidence. There is insufficient caution about the state of the science, and more importantly, there is insufficient understanding of the relevance of the neuroscientific ...


Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague Jan 2016

Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria.

We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those ...


Consent, Culpability, And The Law Of Rape, Kimberly Kessler Ferzan Jan 2016

Consent, Culpability, And The Law Of Rape, Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article explores the relationship between consent and culpability. The goal is to present a thorough exposition of the tradeoffs at play when the law adopts different conceptions of consent. After describing the relationship between culpability, wrongdoing, permissibility, and consent, I argue that the best conception of consent—one that reflects what consent really is—is the conception of willed acquiescence. I then contend that to the extent that affirmative consent standards are aimed at protecting defendants, this can be better achieved through mens rea provisions. I then turn to the current victim-protecting impetus for affirmative expression standards, specifically, requirements ...


Moore On The Mind, Stephen J. Morse Dec 2015

Moore On The Mind, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In revised form, this chapter will be published in a volume, Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore, a festschrift for Michael Moore edited by Professor Kimberly Ferzan and me for Oxford University Press. The chapter first addresses a particular approach to foundational metaphysical issues in the philosophy of mind, action and responsibility that I term “Spockian solutions,” which are home remedies modeled on those found in the baby and child care book of famed pediatrician, the late Dr. Benjamin Spock. It then engages with Moore’s work on a variety of topics concerning action and ...


Criminal Law And Common Sense: An Essay On The Perils And Promise Of Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse Dec 2015

Criminal Law And Common Sense: An Essay On The Perils And Promise Of Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Neuroscience, Free Will, And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2015

Neuroscience, Free Will, And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter argues that the folk-psychological model of the person and responsibility is not challenged by determinism in general or by neurodeterminism in particular. Until science conclusively demonstrates that human beings cannot be guided by reasons and that mental states play no role in explaining behavior, the folk-psychological model of responsibility is justified. This chapter discusses the motivations to turn to science to solve the hard normative problems the law addresses, as well as the law's psychology and its concepts of the person and responsibility. Then it considers the general relation of neuroscience to law, which I characterize as ...


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

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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

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 ...


The Effect Of Mental Illness Under U.S. Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2014

The Effect Of Mental Illness Under U.S. Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper reviews the various ways in which an offender's mental illness can have an effect on liability and offense grading under American criminal law. The 52 American jurisdictions have adopted a variety of different formulations of the insanity defense. A similar diversity of views is seen in the way in which different states deal with mental illness that negates an offense culpability requirement, a bare majority of which limit a defendant's ability to introduce mental illness for this purpose. Finally, the modern successor of the common law provocation mitigation allows, in its new breadth, certain forms of ...


A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2013

A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The article begins by contrasting medical and moral views of addiction and how such views influence responsibility and policy analysis. It suggests that since addiction always involves action and action can always be morally evaluated, we must independently decide whether addicts do not meet responsibility criteria rather than begging the question and deciding by the label of ‘disease’ or ‘moral weakness’. It then turns to the criteria for criminal responsibility and shows that the criteria for criminal responsibility, like the criteria for addiction, are all folk psychological. Therefore, any scientific information about addiction must be ‘translated’ into the law’s ...


Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Apr 2011

Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mental disorder among criminal defendants affects every stage of the criminal justice process, from investigational issues to competence to be executed. As in all other areas of mental health law, at least some people with mental disorders, are treated specially. The underlying thesis of this Article is that people with mental disorder should, as far as is practicable and consistent with justice, be treated just like everyone else. In some areas, the law is relatively sensible and just. In others, too often the opposite is true and the laws sweep too broadly. I believe, however, that special rules to deal ...


Managing Moral Risk: The Case Of Contract, Aditi Bagchi Jan 2011

Managing Moral Risk: The Case Of Contract, Aditi Bagchi

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The concept of moral luck describes how the moral character of our actions seems to depend on factors outside our control. Implications of moral luck have been extensively explored in criminal law and tort law, but there is no literature on moral luck in contract law. I show that contract is an especially illuminating domain for the study of moral luck because it highlights that moral luck is not just a dark cloud over morality and the law to bemoan or ignore. We anticipate moral luck, i.e., we manage our moral risk, when we take into account the possibility ...


Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2011

Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter in, Gene-Environment Interactions in Developmental Psychopathology (K. Dodge & M. Rutter, eds. 2011), considers the relevance of GxE to criminal responsibility and sentencing. It begins with a number of preliminary assumptions that will inform the analysis. It then turns to the law’s view of the person, including the law’s implicit psychology, and the criteria for criminal responsibility. A few false starts or distractions about responsibility are disposed of briefly. With this necessary background in place, the chapter then turns specifically to the relation between GxE and criminal responsibility. It suggests that GxE causes of criminal behavior have ...


Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2010

Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The rapid expansion in neuroscientific research fuelled by the advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] has been accompanied by popular and scholarly commentary suggesting that neuroscience may substantially alter, and perhaps will even revolutionize, both law and morality. This essay, a contribution to, Law and Neuroscience (M. Freeman, Ed. 2011), will attempt to put such claims in perspective and to consider how properly to think about the relation between law and neuroscience. The overarching thesis is that neuroscience may indeed make some contributions to legal doctrine, practice and theory, but such contributions will be few and modest for the ...


Justice, Liability, And Blame: Community Views And The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley Jan 1995

Justice, Liability, And Blame: Community Views And The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley

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This book reports empirical studies on 18 different areas of substantive criminal law in which the study results showing ordinary people’s judgments of justice are compared to the governing legal doctrine to highlight points of agreement and disagreement. The book also identifies trends and patterns in agreement and disagreement and discusses the implications for the formulation of criminal law. The chapters include:

Chapter 1. Community Views and the Criminal Law (Introduction; An Overview; Why Community Views Should Matter; Research Methods)

Chapter 2. Doctrines of Criminalization: What Conduct Should Be Criminal? (Objective Requirements of Attempt (Study 1); Creating a Criminal ...