Stanford University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1998
Los Angeles, California, United States of America
  • Intending to aid
    In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Law and the Philosophy of Action, Brill | Rodopi. 2014.
  • Mind-reading by brain-reading and criminal responsibility
    In Dennis Michael Patterson & Michael S. Pardo (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience, Oxford University Press Uk. 2016.
  • Hypothetical consent
    In Peter Schaber & Andreas Müller (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Consent, Routledge. 2018.
  •  39
    Liberty Worth the Name: Locke on Free Agency
    Princeton University Press. 2000.
    This is the first comprehensive interpretation of John Locke's solution to one of philosophy's most enduring problems: free will and the nature of human agency. Many assume that Locke defines freedom as merely the dependency of conduct on our wills. And much contemporary philosophical literature on free agency regards freedom as a form of self-expression in action. Here, Gideon Yaffe shows us that Locke conceived free agency not just as the freedom to express oneself, but as including also the f…Read more
  •  28
    Revisiting the “But Everybody Does That!” Defense
    Law and Philosophy 41 (2): 419-440. 2022.
    It’s not uncommon for people to try to shield themselves from blame or punishment by saying, “But everybody does that!”. This BEDT defense seems more appealing as a defense to some offenses than to others. In a neglected paper, Doug Husak describes various types of crime to which the BEDT ought, he argues, be a defense. This paper extends his work by identifying a category he overlooks. The paper argues that often the BEDT shields from blame and punishment because the prevalence of the offense i…Read more
  •  33
    The Norm Shift Theory of Punishment
    Ethics 132 (2): 478-507. 2021.
    The philosophy of punishment’s focus on the question of justification has left the question of definition neglected. This article explains why there is a need for necessary and sufficient conditions for punishment and offers a new account. Under the theory proposed, to inflict a punishment is to make fewer things permissible for another to do. Since not every such restriction is punishment, an account is offered of the additional conditions needing to be met. One implication of the resulting the…Read more
  •  9
    When Does Evidence Support Guilt “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”?
    In Larry Alexander & Kimberly Kessler Ferzan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law, Springer Verlag. pp. 97-116. 2019.
    Criminal defendants cannot be punished unless found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Under probabilistic accounts, this means that the probability of guilt given the evidence is above a certain numerical threshold, such as 0.9. Under psychological accounts, by contrast, what is essential is that a factfinder reaches a certain psychological attitude toward guilt, such as certainty or unwavering belief, when contemplating the evidence. An adequate account should provide a normative explanation …Read more
  •  238
    Reid on Favors, Injuries, and the Natural Virtue of Justice
    In Todd Buras & Rebecca Copenhaver (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge and Value, Oxford University Press. pp. 249-266. 2015.
    Reid argues that Hume’s claim that justice is an artificial virtue is inconsistent with the fact that gratitude is a natural sentiment. This chapter shows that Reid’s argument succeeds only given a philosophy of mind and action that Hume rejects. Among other things, Reid assumes that one can conceive of one of a pair of contradictories only if one can conceive of the other—a claim that Hume denies. So, in the case of justice, the disagreement between Hume and Reid is, at bottom, a disagreement o…Read more
  •  16
    This is a reply to Alex Guerrero’s, Erin Kelly’s and Gabe Mendlow’s commentaries on Gideon Yaffe’s The Age of Culpability: Children and the Nature of Criminal Responsibility. The reply focuses on their objections concerning the nature of legal reasons, desert, and the political arrangements that make a difference to criminal culpability.
  •  27
    Punishing Non-citizens
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 14 (3): 347-364. 2020.
    This paper considers the question of why the non-citizenship of offenders poses an obstacle to their criminal punishment. Several proposals are rejected, including Antony Duff’s proposal. It is proposed, instead, that governments are not authorized to punish any offender who cannot be attributed with the norm he violates. The government cannot attribute the norm that a non-citizen violates to him, if the non-citizen can raise in his favor the fact that he has no say over the law. Under certain c…Read more
  •  17
    This is a reply to David Brink, Jeff Howard and Stephen Morse’s commentaries on my book, The Age of Culpability.
  • Book Review (review)
    The Journal of Ethics 11 (4): 485-497. 2007.
  •  22
    Gideon Yaffe presents a theory of criminal responsibility according to which child criminals deserve leniency not because of their psychological, behavioural, or neural immaturity but because they are denied the vote. He argues that full shares of criminal punishment are deserved only by those who have a full share of say over the law.
  •  19
    Is Akrasia Necessary for Culpability? On Douglas Husak’s Ignorance of Law
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (2): 341-349. 2018.
    This paper discusses Douglas Husak’s view that ignorance of the law always reduces culpability since the only fully culpable agents are those who are akratic—who act, that is, in a way that they judge to be wrongful, all things considered. The paper argues that this position is in tension with Husak’s avowed commitment to a reasons-responsiveness theory of culpability, given a plausible way of understanding what that means, and what a reason is.
  •  31
    Mens Rea by the Numbers
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (3): 393-409. 2018.
    Before the recent presidential election, a bipartisan congressional effort was made to pass a criminal justice reform bill. The bill faltered in part because of a proposed default mens rea provision: statutes silent on mens rea, that were not explicitly identified as strict liability by the legislature, would be taken to require for guilt proof of knowledge with respect to each material element. This paper focusses on a prominent line of disagreement about the default mens rea provision. Propone…Read more
  •  32
    This essay replies to the thoughtful commentaries, by Michael Bratman, David Brink, Larry Alexander, and Michael Moore, on my book Attempts.
  • Manifest Activity: Thomas Reid's Theory of Action
    Philosophy 81 (315): 170-175. 2006.
  • Liberty Worth the Name: Beyond Hobbesean Compatibilism
    Dissertation, Stanford University. 1998.
    Hobbes believed there was nothing more to freedom than the ability to do as we choose. According to this view, freedom is undermined only by ropes and chains, those features of our circumstances that prevent the realization of choices. Such views have been criticized on the grounds that freedom can be undermined also by forces that perniciously influence what we choose. Indoctrination, coercion and psychological disorders such as addiction and compulsion detract from freedom by influencing what …Read more
  •  9
    Libertarian Accounts of Free Will (review)
    The Journal of Ethics 11 (4): 485-497. 2007.
  • Thomas Reid: Context, Influence, Significance
    with Joseph Houston
    Philosophical Quarterly 56 (223): 297-300. 2006.
  •  61
    Promises, social acts, and Reid's first argument for moral liberty
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2): 267-289. 2007.
    This paper is concerned to bring out the philosophical contribution that Thomas Reid makes in his discussions of promising. Reid discusses promising in two contexts: he argues that the practice of promising presupposes the belief that the promisor is endowed with what he calls 'active power' , and he argues against Hume's claim that the very act of promising—and the obligation to do as one promised—are "artificial," or the products of human convention . In addition to explaining what Reid says i…Read more
  •  36
    More Attempts: A Reply to Duff, Husak, Mele and Walen (review)
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 6 (3): 429-444. 2012.
    In this paper, I reply to the very thoughtful comments on my book by Antony Duff, Doug Husak, Al Mele and Alec Walen
  •  27
    In Defense of Criminal Possession
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (3): 441-471. 2016.
    Criminal law casebooks and treatises frequently mention the possibility that criminal liability for possession is inconsistent with the Voluntary Act Requirement, which limits criminal liability to that which includes an act or an omission. This paper explains why criminal liability for possession is compatible with the Voluntary Act Requirement despite the fact that possession is a status. To make good on this claim, the paper defends the Voluntary Act Requirement, offers an account of the natu…Read more
  •  90
    Comment on Stephen Darwall's The Second Person Standpoint
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1): 246-252. 2010.
  •  77
    The Point of Mens Rea: The Case of Willful Ignorance
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (1): 19-44. 2018.
    Under the “Willful Ignorance Principle,” a defendant is guilty of a crime requiring knowledge he lacks provided he is ignorant thanks to having earlier omitted inquiry. In this paper, I offer a novel justification of this principle through application of the theory that knowledge matters to culpability because of how the knowing action manifests the agent’s failure to grant sufficient weight to other people’s interests. I show that, under a simple formal model that supports this theory, omitting…Read more
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