South Texas College of Law
  •  17
    G.E.M. Anscombe argued that we should dispense with deontic concepts when doing ethics, if it is psychologically possible to do so. In response, I contend that deontic concepts are constitutive of the common moral experience of guilt. This has two consequences for Anscombe's position. First, seeing that guilt is a deontic emotion, we should recognize that Anscombe's qualification on her thesis applies: psychologically, we need deontology to understand our obligations and hence whether our guilt …Read more
  •  16
    Two Responses to Moral Luck
    Philosophy and Literature 42 (2): 434-439. 2018.
    I am going to discuss two fictional characters, each of whom embodies opposite reactions to the problem of moral luck identified by Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams. The two characters are Noah Cross, played by John Huston in Roman Polanski's film Chinatown, and Father Zosima from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov. Cross takes the existence of moral luck as a reason to fly from moral responsibility. Zosima leaps in the opposite direction, toward unlimited moral responsibility. T…Read more
  •  331
    Pinkerton Short-Circuits the Model Penal Code
    Villanova Law Review 64 (1): 71-99. 2019.
    I show that the Pinkerton rule in conspiracy law is doctrinally and morally flawed. Unlike past critics of the rule, I propose a statutory fix that preserves and reforms it rather than abolishing it entirely. As I will show, this accommodates authors like Neil Katyal who have defended the rule as an important crime fighting tool while also fixing most of the traditional problems with it identified by critics like Wayne LaFave. Pinkerton is a vicarious liability rule that makes conspirators crimi…Read more
  •  388
    Guilt, Practical Identity, and Moral Staining
    Philosophy 92 (4): 623-645. 2017.
    The guilt left by immoral actions is why moral duties are more pressing and serious than other reasons like prudential considerations. Religions talk of sin and karma; the secular still speak of spots or stains. I argue that a moral staining view of guilt is in fact the best model. It accounts for guilt's reflexive character and for anxious, scrupulous worries about whether one has transgressed. To understand moral staining, I borrow Christine Korsgaard's view that we construct our identities as…Read more
  •  125
    A (Moral) Prisoner's Dilemma: Character Ethics and Plea Bargaining
    Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 11 (1): 161-177. 2013.
    Plea bargains are the stock-in-trade of the modern American prosecutor’s office. The basic scenario, wherein a defendant agrees to plea guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, is familiar to viewers of police procedurals. In an equally famous variation on the theme, the prosecutor requests something more than an admission of guilt: leniency will only be forthcoming if the defendant is willing to cooperate with the prosecutor in securing the conviction of another suspect. In some of these case…Read more
  •  298
    Breaking Laws to Fix Broken Windows: A Revisionist Take on Order Maintenance Policing
    Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law 19 (2): 112-152. 2014.
    Today, there is a family of celebrated police strategies that teach the importance of cracking down on petty crime and urban nuisance as the key to effective crime control. Under the “broken windows” appellation, this strategy is linked in the public mind with New York City and the alleged successes of its police department in reducing the rate of crime over the past two decades. This paper is critical of such order maintenance approaches to policing: I argue that infringements of civil liberty …Read more
  •  254
    Parsing the Reasonable Person: The Case of Self-Defense
    American Journal of Criminal Law 39 (3): 101-120. 2012.
    Mistakes are a fact of life, and the criminal law is sadly no exception to the rule. Wrongful convictions are rightfully abhorred, and false acquittals can likewise inspire outrage. In these cases, we implicitly draw a distinction between a court’s finding and a defendant’s actual guilt or innocence. These are intuitive concepts, but as this paper aims to show, contemporary use of the reasonable person standard in the law of self-defense muddles them. Ordinarily, we can distinguish between a per…Read more
  •  100
    The Good, the Bad, and the Klutzy: Criminal Negligence and Moral Concern
    Criminal Justice Ethics 34 (1): 87-115. 2015.
    One proposed way of preserving the link between criminal negligence and blameworthiness is to define criminal negligence in moral terms. On this view, a person can be held criminally responsible for a negligent act if her negligence reflects a deficit of moral concern. Some theorists are convinced that this definition restores the link between negligence and blameworthiness, while others insist that criminal negligence remains suspect. This article contributes to the discussion by applying the w…Read more