Persons and Choices

Hyman Gross

in Crime and Punishment

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738944 | DOI:
Persons and Choices

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When judging culpability, is it possible that it is the person, rather than his conduct, that deserves the most attention? Conduct must of course be paid attention to first, for conduct constitutes the crime. But the person who committed the crime matters even more. However, judging persons, rather than conduct, is beset with major difficulties, and what might be called character theories of criminal culpability do not travel an easy path. This chapter analyzes these difficulties and the inculpatory and exculpatory claims that are supposed to make reference to personal traits and values in order to heighten or diminish the culpability of the criminal act. The chapter concludes that unlike the case with moral judgments, the choice in choosing to do wrong has no inculpatory role to play. Choice does, however, help us to articulate in a more sensitive way the conditions that make exculpation appropriate and allows more moderate conditions of inability to be recognized as grounds for exoneration.

Keywords: criminal culpability; crime; persons; judgement; choice

Chapter.  6880 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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