Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Notions of the ‘Sameness’ of Act-Tokens

Michael S. Moore

in Act and Crime

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599509
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594656 | DOI:
Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Notions of the ‘Sameness’ of Act-Tokens

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Here the problem is not counting the number of wrongs a given act does; rather, it is the problem of counting how many times a given wrong is done; robbing a bank on Monday, then again on Tuesday, and yet again on Wednesday, is three iterations of the same wrong. Nothing forbids multiple punishment for the same wrong being done multiple times by an accused. Needed to apply this truth, however, is a theory about when two or more putatively distinct acts are in reality one and the same act. This is the question of act-token individuation which is the subject of this chapter. The theory developed in the chapter is only partly dependant on the correct metaphysics of the matter, although the theory is constrained by such metaphysics. The theory is more dependent on morality, because the relevant question is not, ‘how many metaphysically distinct acts did an accused do over some interval of time?,’ but rather, ‘how many acts of a wrongful type did he do then?’ I call this the ‘wrong-relative theory of act-token individuation.’

Keywords: act tokens; same offense; multiple actors; multiple consequences; sizing of acts; wrong-relative individuation; unit of offense

Chapter.  14429 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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