WDW365 test 1 Study Notes.docx

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Woodsworth College Courses
William Watson

Richard BoldtThe Construction of Responsibility in the Criminal LawFOCUS Chemically dependent actors should not be responsible for their actions and criminal law must become more dualistTOPIC APerspectives in the Criminal Law 1 All human understanding can be understood from two perspectives Objective Perspectiveconduct is always the product of some matrix of causal factors that necessary determines choice Participant Perspectiveregards the great bulk of human activity as having been produced through the agency of an individuals free will 2 The Participant Perspective is generally given voice in the criminal lawTOPIC BDualist Approach to Freewill 1 Criticism of the Justice Systemstylized treatment of the human capacity for practical reasoningprocess of practical reasoning is when alternative courses of conduct are weighed and decisions are reachedthis process is fully determined by causal factors beyond the autonomous control of the actorit is said that this process also occurs within the actor and so the actor is the author of these decisions SO it is in this respect that conduct can be described both as determined and free BUT this dualist theory is not sufficient for ascribing criminal responsibility2 If the actor can be said to have engaged in practical reasoning responsibility will ordinarily be assigned and those causal factors beyond the actors control will be forgotten 3 If the actor cant be said to have engaged in practical reasoning responsibility will not be assigned and the deterministic causal factors will remain visible SO jurisprudence holds that conduct is blameworthy only when it is the product of the actors freewillNOTEHume For purposes of figuring moral responsibility the relevant question is whether an actor is the author of his or her own conduct such that his or her choices fairly can be attributed to his or her ongoing characterTOPIC CCriminal Law and Strawson Approach 1 The criminal law adopts Strawsons participant perspective when evaluating the responsibility of a given defendantPeople regularly see themselves from two competing vantage points participant and objective Participant Perspectivepeople easily assign praise and blame to their own acts and the conduct of others because they understand human agents as autonomous decision makers Objective Perspectivepeople refuse to ascribe criminal responsibility recognizing the nonautonomous history and circumstance which go to make up the deterministic accountNOTEStrawson humans are to a very large extent social and socially constructed beings whose personhood is influenced by the kind of society in which they live human autonomy exists because it is a social necessity and because people share the subjective experience of its operation not because it can be shown to exist as some sort of presocial realityTOPIC DOn Moores Arguments 1 Moore argues that causal theories of excuse should be rejected because they fail to account accurately for excuse doctrine as it exists within the criminal lawMOOREDETERMINISM SHOULD BE REJECTED PROBLEM1 All human conduct is the product of causal factors beyond the actors free will 2 Blame must be withheld when conduct is caused by factors outside the scope of an actors free will 3 Responsibility cannot be assigned unless the actor is morally culpable and blameableSO no conduct can ever be legally punishable under the determinist perspective THUS it is the opportunity and ability to engage in practical reasoning that renders one subject to blame and praise if the actor was possessed of the opportunity and capacity for practical reasoning he or she was a responsible agent if the actor was denied the opportunity to reason or was incapable of doing so then responsibility may not be assignedCONCLUSION blaming requires that we understand human choices to be truly autonomous in the sense that they are free from the determining force of causal factors beyond the agents control or free will dualism allows us to avoid Moores argument by describing human conduct as simultaneously free and determined cases often fail that really were loss of control cases because the system cannot reconcile intentionalism with determinism
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