Reason, Results, and Criminal Responsibility

In this article, Professor Morse provides new insights into the con-cept of desert in criminal punishment. Professor Morse argues that in-tentional action and forbearance are the only kinds of human conduct that can be effectively guided by the criminal law. The consequences of action, however, cannot be fully guided and are therefore inappropriate predicates for desert. Professor Morse contends that a rational system of criminal law should focus solely on actions and should not impose pun-ishment based on results.Professor Morse’s action-guiding account of the law helps to ex-plain disputed areas of criminal law, including attempt liability, risk cre-ation, causation, accomplice liability, strict liability, and the justifica-tions. After responding to the counterarguments of leading criminal law scholars, the article concludes that a consistent subjectivism concerning criminal liability is both possible and fair.‘As you can plainly see, failed guidanceis the cause the world is steeped in vice,and not your inner nature that has grown corrupt. —Dante

The full text of this Article is available to download as a PDF.