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NCJ Number: 137132 Find in a Library
Title: Notes on the Structure of a Theory of Excuses
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:82  Issue:3  Dated:(Fall 1991)  Pages:465-497
Author(s): M Corrado
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 33
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A body of literature on legal excuses has developed over the past 2 decades, but questions persist on a single theory of excuses that the law recognizes and on how justifications are related to excuses in the law.
Abstract: Issues to be dealt with in any theory of excuses concern conditions that excuse illegal behavior and features that excusing conditions have in common. A character theory of excuses does not have to be a utilitarian theory, while a retributive theory may assert that desert is the only appropriate basis for punishment. Some theories conflict with others, for example, the "inability to do otherwise" criterion competes with the "causal" theory. A theory of excuses that has a character account of the relation between rationale and criterion is based on the proposition that someone who has broken the law should be punished only if the circumstances permit an inference from the action to a defect in the person's character. Although there is general agreement that justifications and excuses are different, there is a great deal of disagreement about what are and what ought to be characteristic features distinguishing justifications from excuses. There is substantial support for the claim that a justified action needs only a morally permissible or morally acceptable action and for the claim that the actor's perception of permissibility or acceptability is important. All excuses are based to one degree or another on the limitation of an individual's choice. The two general categories of excuses are deliberative exculpation and nondeliberative exculpation. 53 footnotes
Main Term(s): Criminology theory evaluation
Index Term(s): Crime causes theory; Criminal responsibility; Just deserts theory; Punishment
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