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.
  •  86
  •  25
    Locke on Suspending, Refraining and the Freedom to Will
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 18 (4). 2001.
  •  132
    Indoctrination, coercion and freedom of will
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2). 2003.
    Manipulation by another person often undermines freedom. To explain this, a distinction is drawn between two forms of manipulation: indoctrination is defined as causing another person to respond to reasons in a pattern that serves the manipulator’s ends; coercion as supplying another person with reasons that, given the pattern in which he responds to reasons, lead him to act in ways that serve the manipulator’s ends. It is argued that both forms of manipulation undermine freedom because manipula…Read more
  •  40
    Comments on John Fischer's My Way
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1): 251-258. 2010.