Program

ACLS Fellowship Program , Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars

Project

Thomas Reid’s philosophy of action

Project

Trying and Attempted Crimes

Department

Philosophy

Location

For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2008-2009

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.