Causation and Responsibility

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The concept of causation is fundamental to ascribing moral and legal responsibility for events. Yet the relationship between causation and responsibility remains unclear. What precisely is the connection between the concept of causation used in attributing responsibility and the accounts of causal relations offered in the philosophy of science and metaphysics? How much of what we call causal responsibility is in truth defined by non-causal factors? Causation and Responsibility argues that much of the legal doctrine on these questions is confused and incoherent, and offers the first comprehensive attempt since Hart and Honore to clarify the philosophical background to the legal and moral debates.
The book first sets out the place of causation in criminal and tort law and outlines the metaphysics presupposed by the legal doctrine. It then analyzes the best theoretical accounts of causation in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, and using these accounts criticizes many of the core legal concepts surrounding causation - such as intervening causation, foreseeability of harm, and complicity. It considers and rejects the radical proposals to eliminate the notion of causation from law by using risk analysis to attribute responsibility. The result of the analysis is a powerful argument for revising our understanding of the role played by causation in the attribution of legal and moral responsibility.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The most comprehensive study of this topic since Hart and Honore, this work pulsates with arguments and examples, all in the service of an integrated picture of the interactions between law, morals, the philosophy of mind, and the metaphysics of causation. Moore's uncompromising realism brings a remarkable unity to his argument, and will form the starting point for any similar discussion from now onwards.
—Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge

"My very highest recommendation-this book deserves a place on the shelf of every legal academic."
—Lawrence Solum

"Causation and Responsibility bustles with proactive ideas and arguments, explored with rigorous analysis and systematically"
—Sandy Steel, University of Cambridge, Law Quarterly Review

"The book is rigorous in its analysis, breathtaking in its scope, and masterful in its effort to apply metaphysics to morality and law."
—Criminal Law and Philosophy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199256860
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/27/2009
  • Pages: 530
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Moore holds the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Chair at the University of Illinois, where he is jointly appointed as the Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy. His major works include Placing Blame (OUP, 1997), Act and Crime, (OUP, 1993) and Law and Psychiatry (CUP, 1984).

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Table of Contents

I. The Role of Causation in Moral and Legal Responsibility
1. The Embedding of Causation in Legal Liability Doctrines
2. The 'Moral Luck' Debate About Results and Responsibility
3. Causation and the Permissability of Consequentialist Justification within Agent-Relative Morality
II. Presuppositions about the Nature of Causation by Legal Doctrines
4. The Law's Own Characterization of its Causal Requirements
5. The Seeming Demands of the Law on the Concept of Causation: A First Pruning of Legal Doctrines
6. A Second Pruning of the Law's Demands on a Concept of Causation
III. The First Blind Alley: The Attempt to Replace Proximate Causation with Culpability as a Prerequisite to Legal Liability
7. The Historical Development of the 'Harm Within the Risk' Idea in Anglo-American Law
8. Conceptual Problems for All Versions of Harm Within the Risk Analyses
9. Normative Problems for All Versions of Harm Within the Risk Analyses
10. The Descriptive Inaccuracy of a Strong Version of Harm Within the Risk Analysis as Measuring Legal Causation
IV. The Legal Supposition of There Being 'Intervening Causes'
11. The Legal Doctrines of Intervening Causation
12. The Lack of any Metaphysical (or Policy) Basis for the Doctrines of Intervening Causation
13. Eliminating Accomplice Liability Along With the Doctrines of Intervening Causation
V. The Metaphysics of Causal Relata
14. The Candidates for the Relata of Singular Causal Relations
15. The Fact versus Event Debate
VI. The Metaphysics of the Causal Relation
16. Counterfactual Conditionals
17. The Counterfactual Theory of Causation and its Problems
18. Counterfactual Dependency as an Independent, Non-Causal Desert Basis
19. Law Reductionist Theories of the Singular Causal Relation: Humean, Nomic Sufficiency, and Probabalistic
20. The Many Hues of Singularist Theories of Causation
Contract Law and the Metaphysics of Causation

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