Academic journal article et Cetera

Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System?

Academic journal article et Cetera

Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System?

Article excerpt

James Q. Wilson. Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System? New York: Basic, 1997.

James Q. Wilson, a professor of management and public policy at UCLA, begins his book with this premise: If a sense of right and wrong is innate to every sane human being, how can we clog our court systems with cases that turn on mitigating and extenuating circumstances? Citing the Menendez, Goetz and other famous cases to illustrate his points, he argues that while the goal of the legal process is and should be to judge the behavior of the defendant, it has dramatically given way to explaining that behavior. Therefore, the essential ideas of personal responsibility have been weakened.

Examining why people are today held less accountable for their actions, Wilson believes that criminal trials, especially those involving murders, have been hamstrung by the introduction of a range of implausible excuses. These excuses range from the Twinkie Defense, a claim of impaired judgment due to the toxic effects of junk food, to claims of psychosexual abuse, to the abuse excuse - that a woman may castrate or shoot a brutal husband even though he is asleep. …

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