Bert, minimally conscious states, and responsiblity

I just posted the paper I was working through during my stint at the Flickers of Freedom blog on the academia website. It is in final draft form, to be published some time next year as a chapter in an OUP volume edited by fantastic legal scholars Dennis Patterson and Michael Pardo. Comments are most welcome. Negligence is a very tricky topic, and I feel like I still have a lot to learn and work through.

Here’s the abstract:

In this chapter I will argue that cases of negligent criminal harm indicate that Levy’s claim that moral responsibility requires synchronic conscious awareness of the moral significance of an act is too strict. Further, I will claim that tracing conditions cannot be successfully used to bolster Levy’s account. Instead, current legal practices indicate that criminal responsibility requires the capacity for diachronic agency and self-control, not synchronic conscious control. This means that an agent may be responsible for harm related to lapses (failures of memory or judgment) even if he at no point could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of causing criminal harm. The criminal law aims not only to sway conscious decision-making in the time slice immediately preceding a crime, but also to motivate them to become law-abiding over time via diachronic self-interventions, including manipulating ones dispositions to act and environment. Such self-interventions can make it more or less likely that an agent will be prone to lapses that cause criminal harm.

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