Insanity Defenses

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ken Levy

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195314854
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Insanity Defenses

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Many infamous cases create the impression that political assassins can get off just by pleading insanity. That impression, however, is inaccurate, because many insanity pleas are not successful. Still, successful insanity defenses are often controversial. On the one hand, when a defendant is known to have intentionally caused a death, it strikes many as unjust to find that person not guilty. On the other hand, it strikes many as unfair to find someone guilty of committing an offense for which he was not morally responsible. This chapter examines whether insanity is medical or legal; the M'Naghten Rule; irresistible impulse and loss of control; the model penal code; insanity as irrationality; and arguments for and against an insanity defense.

Keywords: mental institutions; insanity defense; political assassins; moral responsibility; M'Naghten Rule; irrationality

Article.  19707 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Law

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