Harm and Culpability

By A. P. Simester; A. T. H. Smith | Go to book overview

3
Competing Theories of Justification: Deeds v. Reasons

Paul H. Robinson*

Every jurisdiction recognizes that special circumstances can justify conduct that otherwise would be an offence. Unlawful aggression by another can trigger a right to use force in self-defence or in defence of another or of property. Aggressive force is authorized for a police officer making an arrest. Even bus drivers have a right to use some force to maintain order and safety on their vehicles. Beyond the use of force, a person can be justified in taking food from another's forest cabin to avoid dying of starvation or in tying up to another's private dock to avoid the danger of a storm.

In each of these instances, a societal interest1 is injured or endangered -- the elements of an offence are satisfied. Yet, in each instance, whether it is defensive or aggressive force, a trespass, or some other normally criminal conduct, a defence is given under the common theory of all justification defences: although the conduct ordinarily constitutes an offence, when the justifying circumstances exist we are content to have the justified conduct performed. The existence of the justifying circumstances means that, while the harm prohibited by the offence does occur, it is outweighed by the avoidance of a greater harm or by the advancement of a greater good. In other words, there is no net societal harm.

This characteristic of justification defences is made explicit in the Model Penal Code's general justification defence, which gives a defence if 'the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offence charged.'2 English law has no such general defence, but each justification defence reflects the principle.

____________________
*
Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law. Work on this article was supported by the Stanford Clinton, Sr., Faculty Fund of NULS. The original version of this paper was delivered on 12 December 1994, as part of the Gonville and Caius College Seminar Series on Current Problems in Criminal Theory. The author wishes to acknowledge the research assistance of James R. Lane and the contributions of the participants at the Cambridge Seminar.
1
By 'societal interest' I mean to include any interest recognized by the society, whether that interest is individual, collective, institutional, tangible, or intangible.
2
Model Penal Code, § 3.02(1).

-45-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Harm and Culpability
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 280

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.