Leo Katz

Bad Acts and Guilty Minds

The author of Ill-Gotten Gains uses philosophy and psychology to examine how human behavior can be questioned under criminal law.
Henri plans a trek through the desert. Alphonse, intending to kill Henri, puts poison into his canteen. Gaston also intends to kill Henri but has no idea what Alphonse has been up to. He puncture’s Henri’s canteen, and Henri dies of thirst. Who has caused Henri’s death? Was it Alphonse? Gaston? Or neither?
Strange conundrums like this one have fascinated lawyers and no lawyers for centuries, raising problems of causation, intention, negligence, necessity, duress, complicity, and attempt. With wit and intelligence, Leo Katz seeks to understand the basic rules and concepts underlying these moral, linguistic, and psychological puzzles that plague the criminal law. Drawing on insights from analytical philosophy and psychology, he brings order into the seemingly endless multiplicity of these puzzles: many of them turn out to be variations of a few basic philosophical problems, making their appearance in different guises. To test his arguments, Katz moves far beyond the traditional body of exemplary criminal law cases. He brings into view the decisions of common law judges in colonial and postcolonial Africa, famous cases such as the Nuremberg trials, Aaron Burr’s treason, and ABSCAM, as well as well-known incidents in fiction.
Praise for Bad Acts and Guilty Minds
Bad Acts and Guilty Minds . . . revives the mind, it challenges superficial analyses, it reminds us that underlying the vast body of statutory and case law, there is a rationale founded in basic notions of fairness and reason. . . . It will help lawyers to better serve their clients and the society that permits attorneys to hang out their shingles.” —Edward N. Costikyan, New York Times Book Review
“With its novel combination of theoretical and interdisciplinary learning, its refreshingly new approach to old problems, and the easy accessibility made possible by the lightness of its style, Katz’s book should become a classic in the field for years to come. I would recommend it to beginning law students and lay persons interested in an introduction to the field, as well as to criminal law academics interested in furthering their already well-developed understanding of criminal law theory.” —Michael S. Moore, author of Law and Psychiatry: Rethinking the Relationship
550 printed pages
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