Gideon D. Yaffe
- Associate Professor
- University of Southern California
Thomas Reid’s philosophy of action
Trying and Attempted Crimes
Why are we justified in treating failed attempts to commit crimes as crimes? Laws against attempts acquit some defendants with criminal intentions, stopped before causing harm, and condemn others. While the law specifies the acts and mental states constituting attempt, it is rarely clear what justifies drawing the lines as we do. This project analyzes the fundamental basis of attempt law through examination of both the philosophical basis for particular criminal law doctrines and the historical roots in the Common Law’s approach to attempts, an approach informed by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century conceptions of agency. It is a multi-disciplinary project at the intersection of philosophy of action, criminal law theory, and the history of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British philosophy of action.