Criminal Responsibility (Classic Reprint)by Charles Mercier
'In homicide, as in all other crimes, the definition consists of two parts, - the outward act, and the state of mind which accompanies it.' This dictum of one of our greatest jurists indicates clearly that all crime is, in part, a problem in psychology. The outward act which enters into the composition of crime is the subject of
Excerpt from Criminal Responsibility
'In homicide, as in all other crimes, the definition consists of two parts, - the outward act, and the state of mind which accompanies it.' This dictum of one of our greatest jurists indicates clearly that all crime is, in part, a problem in psychology. The outward act which enters into the composition of crime is the subject of innumerable statutes and innumerable judicial decisions. Criminal acts have been classified and considered with the utmost minuteness and the most discriminating subtlety, as to their kinds, their effects, their degrees, their stages, their circumstances, and I know not what beside. The other ingredient in crime - the state of mind which accompanies the outward act - is much more obscure; and, though it has received much attention at the hands of very eminent men, it has not arrived at a stage of such settled determination as has the first ingredient. The reasons are manifest. Our knowledge of the constitution of mind has lagged far behind our knowledge of the constitution of acts. States of mind are not, as acts are, directly observable, but are matters of inference, often of very uncertain and speculative inference. The discovery of the state of mind that accompanies an act, no more than the discovery of the geological constitution of a stone, can be effected by the unaided common sense of the uninstructed. It demands a knowledge of the constituents of mind, and of the laws of operation of mind: and the inability of even an acute intellect, if uninformed, to deal with the subject successfully, is shown by the complete failure of Jeremy Bentham's elaborate analysis to command assent, - I might say, even attention.
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