Advertisement

Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 147–198 | Cite as

Punishing the Awkward, the Stupid, the Weak, and the Selfish: The Culpability of Negligence

  • Michael S. MooreEmail author
  • Heidi M. Hurd
Original Paper

Abstract

Negligence is a problematic basis for being morally blamed and punished for having caused some harm, because in such cases there is no choice to cause or allow—or risk causing or allowing—such harm to occur. The standard theories as to why inadvertent risk creation can be blameworthy despite the lack of culpable choice are that in such cases there is blame for: (1) an unexercised capacity to have adverted to the risk; (2) a defect in character explaining why one did not advert to the risk; (3) culpably acquiring or failing to rid oneself of these defects of character at some earlier time; (4) flawed use of those practical reasoning capacities that make one the person one is; or (5) chosen violation of per se rules about known precautions. Although each of these five theories can justify blame in some cases of negligence, none can justify blame in all cases intuitively thought to be cases of negligence, nor can any of these five theories show why inadvertent creation of an unreasonable risk, pure and simple, can be blameworthy.

Keywords

Negligence Recklessness Advertence Tracing Inadvertence Character Capacity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This paper was written during our tenure as Fellows at the Fleming Centre for Advancement of Legal Research at the Australian National University College of Law, Canberra, Australia. Our sincere thanks to the Centre and the ANU College of Law, together with their Director and Dean, Peter Cane and Michael Cooper, respectively, for providing us with such a congenial location in which to do this work. Our thanks also go to Larry Alexander, Peter Cane, Kim Ferzan, Doug Husak, Jonathan Schaffer, Ken Simons, and Holly Smith, for providing us with helpful comments on earlier drafts of the present article. Thanks also go to the participants at the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Workshop, October, 2010, for their helpful comments. In addition to those thanked above, we would also like to thank our expert Faculty Librarian Liason, Stephanie Davidson, and our energetic research assistant, Emily Norris (J.D. 2011), for their conscientious accumulation of relevant literature and thoughtful ideas on the topic. We are grateful, as well, to the University of Illinois and to those who endowed our faculty positions for supporting our research. Thanks also go to the participants of the University of Illinois Philosophy Department Faculty Colloquium, February, 2011, for their helpful comments. We owe a special thanks, finally, to our son, Aidan Moore, both for providing us with extensive field-experience on the topic of negligence and for regaling us over recent months with countless Darwin Award stories that have repeatedly refueled our discussions of this topic.

References

  1. Alexander, L., & Ferzan, K. K. (with Morse, S.). (2009a). Crime and culpability: A theory of criminal law. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, L., & Ferzan, K. K. (2009b). Reply. In P. H. Robinson, S. P. Garvey, & K. K. Ferzan (Eds.), Criminal law conversations (pp. 160–162). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, L., & Moore, M. (2007). Deontological ethics. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. url :http://plato.stanford.edu/.
  4. Aune, B. (1967). Hypotheticals and “can”: Another look. Analysis, 27, 191–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Austin, J. L. (1961). Ifs and cans. In Proceedings of the British Academy (Vol. 42, pp. 109–132). Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bergelson, V. (2009). The case of weak will and Wayward desire. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 3, 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dennett, D. (1969). Content and consciousness. New York: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dennett, D. (1978). Beyond belief. In Intentional stance (pp. 117–212). Putney, Vt.: Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  9. Duff, A. (1993). Choice, character, and criminal liability. Law and Philosophy, 12, 345–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duff, A. (2009). Answering for crime: Responsibility and liability in the criminal law. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Ferzan, K. K. (2001). Opaque Recklessness. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 91, 597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fingarette, H. (1969). Self-deception. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Fischer, J. M. (1979). Lehrer’s new move: “Can” in theory and practice. Theoria, 45, 49–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fischer, J. M. (2006). Responsibility and alternative possibilities. In My way: Essays on moral responsibility (pp. 38–62). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fletcher, G. (1971). The theory of criminal negligence: A comparative analysis. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 119, 401–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the Id, The Standard Edition f the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19, p. 18). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  17. Garvey, S. P. (2006). What’s wrong with involuntary manslaughter? Texas Law Review, 85, 333–383.Google Scholar
  18. Garvey, S. P. (2008). Dealing with Wayward desire. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 3, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garvey, S. P. (2009). Fatally circular? Not!. In P. H. Robinson, S. P. Garvey, & K. K. Ferzan (Eds.), Criminal law conversations (pp. 286–288). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gilles, D. (2000). Philosophical theories of probability. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Hall, J. (1963). Negligent behavior should be excluded from penal liability. Columbia Law Review, 63, 632–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harel, A., & Parchomovsky, G. (1999). On hate and equality. Yale Law Journal, 109, 507–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart, H. L. A. (1968). Negligence, mens rea and criminal responsibility. In Hart, punishment and responsibility: Essays in the philosophy of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hassin, R., Uleman, J., & Bargh, J. (Eds.). (2005). The new unconscious. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Horder, J. (1993). Criminal culpability: The possibility of a general theory. Law and Philosophy, 12, 193–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hurd, H. M. (1991). Challenging authority. Yale Law Journal, 100, 1611–1677.Google Scholar
  27. Hurd, H. M. (1994). What in the world is wrong? Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, 5, 157–216.Google Scholar
  28. Hurd, H. M. (1995). The levitation of liberalism. Yale Law Journal, 105, 795–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hurd, H. M. (1996). The deontology of negligence. Boston University Law Review, 76, 249–272.Google Scholar
  30. Hurd, H. M. (1998). Duties beyond the call of duty. Annual Review of Law and Ethics, 6, 1–39.Google Scholar
  31. Hurd, H. M. (1999). Moral combat. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hurd, H. M. (2002). Liberty in law. Law and Philosophy, 21, 385–465.Google Scholar
  33. Hurd, H. M. (2005). Tolerating wickedness: Moral reasons for lawmakers to permit immorality. Annual Review of Law and Ethics, 167–193.Google Scholar
  34. Hurd, H. M., & Moore, M. S. (2002). Negligence in the air. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 3, 333–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Husak, D. (2011). Negligence, belief, blame and criminal liability: The special case of forgetting. Criminal Law and Philosophy. doi: 10.1007/s11572-011-9115-z.
  36. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology (Vol. 2). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Johnson, E. (2006). Beyond belief. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 3, 503–522.Google Scholar
  38. Kane, R. (1998). The significance of free will. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Katz, L. (1987). Bad acts and guilty minds: Conundrums of the criminal law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. King, M. (2009). The problem with negligence. Social Theory and Practice, 35, 577–595.Google Scholar
  41. Kratzer, A. (1977). What “must” and “can” must and can mean. Linguistics and Philosophy, 1, 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lehrer, K. (1976). “Can” in theory and practice: A possible worlds analysis. In M. Brand & J. Walton (Eds.), Action theory (pp. 241–270). Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  43. Magruder, C. (1959). Judge Macgruder: Ave Atque Vale. Harvard Law Record, 28, 6–9.Google Scholar
  44. Maier, J. (2010). Ability. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2010 ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/ability/.
  45. Marmodoro, A. (2010). The metaphysics of powers. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Mele, A. (2003). Agents abilities. Nous, 37, 447–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Model Penal Code. (1962). Proposed official draft. Philadelphia: American Law Institute.Google Scholar
  48. Model Penal Code Commentaries. (1985). (Part I), Official draft and revised comments. Philadelphia: American Law Institute.Google Scholar
  49. Molnar, G. (2003). In S. Mumford (Ed.), Powers: A study in metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Moore, G. E. (1912). Ethics, Chapter VI. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  51. Moore, M. (1980, 1983). The nature of psychoanalytic explanation. In Psychoanalysis and contemporary thought (Vol. 3, pp. 459–543), revised and reprinted in L. Laudan (Ed.), Mind and medicine: Explanation in psychiatry and the biomedical sciences, Vol. 8 of the Pittsburgh Series in the Philosophy and the History of Science. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  52. Moore, M. (1984). Law and psychiatry: Rethinking the relationship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Moore, M. (1985). Causation and the excuses. California Law Review, 73, 1091–1149, reprinted as chapter 12 of Moore, Placing Blame.Google Scholar
  54. Moore, M. (1988). Mind, brain, and unconscious. In P. Clark, & C. Wright (Eds.), Mind, science, and psychoanalysis. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, reprinted in Moore, Placing Blame, chapter 10.Google Scholar
  55. Moore, M. (1989, 2000). Law, authority, and Razian reasons. Southern California Law Review, 62, 827–896, reprinted in Moore, Educating oneself in public: Critical essays in jurisprudence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, Ch. 5.Google Scholar
  56. Moore, M. (1990). Choice, character, and excuse. Social Philosophy and Policy, 7, 28–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Moore, M. (1993). Act and crime: The philosophy of action and its implications for the criminal law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  58. Moore, M. (1997). Placing blame: A general theory of the criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Moore, M. (1998). Liberty and supererogation. Annual Review of Law and Ethics, 6, 111–143.Google Scholar
  60. Moore, M. (2009). Causation and responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Moore, M. (2011a). The challenges of contemporary neuroscience to desert-based legal institutions. Social Philosophy and Policy, 29.Google Scholar
  62. Moore, M. (2011b). Causation revisited. Rutgers Law Journal.Google Scholar
  63. Murphy, J. G. (1992). Bias crimes: What do haters deserve? Criminal Justice Ethics (Summer/Fall), 20–23.Google Scholar
  64. Nelkin, D. (2010). Rational abilities and moral responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Nowell-Smith, P. H. (1960). Ifs and cans. Theoria, 26, 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pears, D. (1972). Ifs and cans. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 1, 369–391.Google Scholar
  67. Pillsbury, S H. (1996). Crimes of indifference. Rutgers Law Review, 49, 105-218.Google Scholar
  68. Rawls, J. (1993). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Raz, J (1989). Facing up: A Reply. Southern California Law Review, 62, 1153–1235.Google Scholar
  70. Raz, J. (2010). Responsibility and the negligence standard. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 30, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Robinson, P. (1985). Causing the conditions of one’s own defense: A study in the limits of theory in criminal law doctrine. Virginia Law Review, 71, 1–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Scanlon, T. (1998). What we owe each other. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Schlick, M. (1962). Problems of ethics. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  74. Sher, G. (2009). Who knew?: Responsibility without awareness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Simester, A. P. (2000). Can negligence be culpable? In J. Horder (Ed.), Oxford essays in jurisprudence, Fourth Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Simons, K. (1994). Culpability and retributive theory: The problem of criminal negligence. Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, 5, 365–398.Google Scholar
  77. Simons, K. (2002). Does punishment for “culpable indifference” simply punish for bad character? Examining the requisite connection between Mens Rea and Actus Reus. Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 6, 219–316.Google Scholar
  78. Simons, K. (2008). Tort negligence, cost-benefit analysis, and tradeoffs: A closer look at the controversy. Loyola (Los Angeles) Law Review, 41, 1171–1224.Google Scholar
  79. Simons, K. (2009). The distinction between negligence and recklessness is unstable. In P. H. Robinson, S. P. Garvey, & K. K. Ferzan (Eds.), Criminal law conversations (pp. 290–291). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, A. (2004). Conflicting attitudes, moral agency, and conceptions of the self. Philosophical Topics, 32, 331–352.Google Scholar
  81. Smith, M. (2004). Rational capacities. In Ethics and the a priori. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Smith, A. (2005). Responsibility for attitudes: Activity and passivity in mental life. Ethics, 115, 236–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Smith, A. (2008). Control, responsibility, and moral assessment. Philosophical Studies, 138, 367–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Smith, H. (2011). Non-tracing cases of culpable ignorance. Criminal Law and Philosophy. doi: 10.1007/s11572-011-9113-1.
  85. Tasiltz, A. (2009). Cognitive science and contextual negligence liability. In P. H. Robinson, S. P. Garvey, & K. K. Ferzan (Eds.), Criminal law conversations (pp. 288–290). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Taylor, R. (1960). I can. Philosophical Review, 69, 78–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Van Inwagen, P. (1975). The incompatibility of free will and determinism. Philosophical Studies, 27, 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Van Inwagen, P. (1983). An essay on free will. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  89. Vargas, M. (2005). The trouble with tracing. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 25, 269–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Watson, G. (1977). Skepticism about weakness of the will. Philosophical Review, 86, 316–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Westen, P. (2008). Individualizing the reasonable person in criminal law. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 2, 137–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Williams, G. (1961). Criminal law: The general part (2nd ed.). London: Stevens and Sons.Google Scholar
  93. Winters, B. (1978). Acquiring beliefs at will. Philosophy Research Archives, 4, 433–441.Google Scholar
  94. Winters, B. (1979). Believing at will. Journal of Philosophy, 76, 243–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wright, R. (2002a). Justice and reasonable care in negligence law. American Journal of Jurisprudence, 47, 143–196.Google Scholar
  96. Wright, R. (2002b). Negligence in the courts: Introduction and commentary. Chicago-Kent Law Review, 77, 425–487.Google Scholar
  97. Wright, R. (2003). Hand, Posner, and the myth of the “hand formula”. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 4, 145–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Zimmerman, M. J. (1986). Negligence and moral responsibility. Nous, 20, 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Zipursky, B. (2007). Sleight of hand. William and Mary Law Review, 48, 1999–2041.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charles R. Walgreen Jr., University Chair, Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, Professor in the Center for Advanced StudyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.David C. Baum Professor of Law and Professor of PhilosophyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations