Chapter

Criminal Attempts

Joel Feinberg

in Problems at the Roots of Law

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155266
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833177 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195155262.003.0004
Criminal Attempts

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One perennial philosophical question is whether a failed attempt to perform a criminal action should be punished as severely as a successfully completed crime. Attempting to resolve this issue generates other philosophical problems relating to desert, guilt, remorse, and the aims and grounds for lawful punishment. The reformist approach to sentencing defended in this chapter, which treats completed crimes and failed attempts ceteris paribus as essentially the same, contrasts with the traditional approach, which places more weight on the actual harm done and does not rule out good or bad luck as determinants of the severity of the penalty. Thus, the traditional approach allows arbitrariness to govern and to corrupt the judicial system.

Keywords: crime; desert; guilt; harm; moral luck; punishment; remorse

Chapter.  13163 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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