Actions, reasoning, and criminal liability: Philosophical and psychological foundations of criminal responsibility.
AuthorSchopp, Robert Francis.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractContemporary American Criminal Law, as represented by the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code, defines the structure of criminal offenses in a manner that establishes certain psychological processes of the defendant as necessary conditions for criminal liability. In order to convict a defendant, the state must prove all offense elements including the voluntary act and culpability requirements. These provisions involve the actor's psychological processes, but neither the exact nature of these requirements nor the relationship between them is clearly understood. Certain general defenses, such as automatism and insanity, also address the defendant's psychological processes. It has been notoriously difficult, however, to develop a satisfactory formulation of either of these defenses or of the relationship between them and the system of offense elements. This dissertation presents a conceptual framework that grounds the Model Penal Code's structure of offense elements in philosophical action theory. On this interpretation, the offense requirements that involve the defendant's psychological processes can be understood as part of an integrated attempt to establish the criminal law as a behavior guiding institution that is uniquely appropriate to those who have the capacity to direct their conduct through a process of practical reasoning. The key offense requirements are designed to limit criminal liability to those behaviors that are appropriately attributed to the offender as a practical reasoner. Certain general defenses, including insanity, exculpate defendants when their behavior is not attributable to them as practical reasoners as a result of certain types of impairment that are not addressed by the offense elements. This conceptual framework provides a consistent interpretation of the relevant offense elements and defenses as part of an integrated system that limits criminal liability to those acts that are appropriately attributable to the defendant in his capacity as a practical reasoner. In addition, this dissertation contends that this system reflects a defensible conception of personal responsibility.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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Crime, criminal careers and social control: A methodological analysis of economic choice and social control theories of crime.Britt, Chester Lamont, III. (The University of Arizona., 1990)This study tests the validity of two theories of crime: economic choice (as manifest in the criminal career paradigm) and social control. The test of these two theories is primarily methodological, in that four types of crime data (official and longitudinal (Uniform Crime Reports), official and cross-sectional (Bail Decisionmaking Study), self-report and longitudinal (National Youth Survey), and self-report and cross-sectional (Seattle Youth Study)) and a variety of graphical and statistical techniques are used to compare findings on (1) the stability of the age distribution of crime, (2) the prevalence of offense specialization, and (3) the differences in the causes of participating in crime compared to the causes of frequency of criminal activity among those individuals committing crimes. The findings on the relation between age and crime show the general shape of the age-crime curve is stable across year of the data or curve, type of data, cohort, and age group. The tests for offense specialization reveal that offenders are versatile. An individual's current offense type is not predictable, with much accuracy, on the basis of prior offending. Again, the lack of offense specialization held across type of data, but age, race, and gender distinctions also failed to alter significantly the observed pattern of versatility. Findings on the causes of participation in crime and frequency of criminal activity among active offenders showed only trivial differences in the set of statistically significant predictors for each operationalization of crime and delinquency. Two distinct operationalizations of frequency also showed no substantial difference in the set of statistically significant predictors. Similar to the findings on age and crime, and offense specialization, the pattern of results for the participation and frequency analyses held across type of data. In sum, the results tended to support the predictions of social control theory over those of the economic choice-criminal career view of crime.