Yaffe's attempts

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Yaffe's handling of two general questions is assessed in this review. The first question is why mere attempts (as opposed to successful wrongdoing) should be made punishable in a well-conceived criminal code. The second question is how attempt liability should be conceived in such a code. As to the first question, Yaffe's nonsubstantive mode of answering it (in terms of his transfer principle) is contrasted to answers based on some more substantive desert-bases; Yaffe's own more substantive kind of answer (in terms of a desert-base of faulty modes of reason recognition and response) is examined in light of the implication that the traditional requirements of trying and intending are mere proxies for faulty reason recognition and response as the basis for blaming and punishing attempts. As to the second question, Yaffe's analysis of trying in terms of a guiding commitment view is examined in some detail. Canvassed here are the subquestions of: (1) whether appropriate assessibility by certain norms of rationality can give the nature of intending and thus of trying; (2) whether the externally de dicto intent requirements of criminal law statutes can easily be interpreted and applied by standard, extensional methods; (3) whether the distinctions between various kinds of elements within the content of intentions, can be justified ontologically or only practically; (4) whether actors necessarily intend results of their actions that are very close to other results that clearly are intended, and if not, whether such actors are nonetheless just as blameworthy for those results as if they did intend them; and (5) whether intention with respect to circumstance-elements differ (in either their psychology or in their moral effect) from beliefs with respect to such circumstance-elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-177
Number of pages42
JournalLegal Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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