Two Objections to Yaffe on the Criminalization of Attempts

Criminal Law and Philosophy 8 (3):569-587 (2014)
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In his recent book Attempts, Gideon Yaffe suggests that attempts should be criminalized because of a principle he dubs the “Transfer Principle.” This principle holds that if a particular form of conduct is legitimately criminalized, then the attempt to engage in that form of conduct is also legitimately criminalized. Although Yaffe provides a powerful defense of the Transfer Principle, in this paper I argue that Yaffe’s argument for it ultimately does not succeed. In particular, I formulate two objections to Yaffe’s argument for the Transfer Principle. First, I argue that a basic assumption about criminalization, on which Yaffe’s argument crucially depends, is incomplete, and Yaffe’s own attempt to supplement it undermines his argument for the Transfer Principle. Second, I argue that Yaffe’s argument does not properly account for the fact that those who merely attempt a crime and those who complete it might sometimes be responding to reasons in different ways. Accordingly, I conclude that Yaffe has not succeeded in establishing the truth of the Transfer Principle



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Alexander Sarch
University of Surrey

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Intention, plans, and practical reason.Michael Bratman - 1987 - Cambridge: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
The punishment that leaves something to chance.David K. Lewis - 1987 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 18 (1):53-67.
The Common Law.Oliver Wendell Holmes - 1991 - Courier Corporation.
Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. [REVIEW]J. David Velleman - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (2):277-284.

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