Article

Law and Philosophy

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 385-403

A Retributive Justification for not Punishing Bare Intentions or: On the Moral Relevance of the ‘Now-Belief’

  • Federico PicinaliAffiliated withLaw Department, London School of Economics and Political Science Email author 

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Abstract

According to criminal law a person should not be punished for a bare intention to commit a crime. While theorists have provided consequentialist and epistemic justifications of this tenet, no convincing retributive justification thereof has yet been advanced. The present paper attempts to fill this lacuna through arguing that there is an important moral difference between a future-directed and a present-directed intention to act wrongfully. Such difference is due to the restraining influence exercised in the decisional process by the ‘now-belief’, i.e. the belief that the time has come to act, which is exclusively involved in the latter type of intention.