Attempts In the Philosophy of Action and the Criminal Law

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-01-20
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Gideon Yaffe presents a ground-breaking work which demonstrates the importance of philosophy of action for the law. Many people are serving sentences not for completing crimes, but for trying to. So the law governing attempted crimes is of practical as well as theoretical importance. Questions arising in the adjudication of attempts intersect with questions in the philosophy of action, such as what intention a person must have, if any, and what a person must do, if anything, to betrying to act. Yaffe offers solutions to the difficult problems courts face in the adjudication of attempted crimes. He argues that the problems courts face admit of principled solution through reflection either on what it is to try to do something; or on what evidence is required for someone to beshown to have tried to do something; or on what sentence for an attempt is fair given the close relation between attempts and completions. The book argues that to try to do something is to be committed by one's intention to each of the components of success and to be guided by those commitments. Recognizing the implications of this simple and plausible position helps us to identify principled grounds on which the courts ought to distinguish between defendants charged with attemptedcrimes.

Author Biography

Gideon Yaffe is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Southern California. He is also a member of the network on criminal responsibility and prediction of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience Project. He is the author of books and articles concerned with moral and criminal responsibility and the history of thought about those topics.

Table of Contents

Part 1: What are Attempts and Why Do We Criminalize Them?
1. Rationalizing the Criminalization of Attempt
2. The Need for an Intention
3. The Nature of Trying
Appendix: A Competing Conception of Trying
Part 2: The Elemental Conception of the Intention in Attempt and Its Implications
4. The Intention in Attempt
5. Circumstances and "Impossibility"
Appendix: Lady Eldon and Her Children, Mr. Fact and Mr. Law
6. If it Can't be Done Intentionally Can it be Tried?
7. Trying by Asking: Solicitation as Attempt
Part 3: The Evidential Conception of the Act Element and Its Implications
8. The Need for an Act
9. Stupid Plans and Inherent Impossibility
10. The Act in Attempt
Part 4: Sentencing Attempts
11. Abandonment and Change of Mind
12. Is it Unfair to Punish Completed Crimes More than Attempts?

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