Why Outcomes Matter (And How They Do)
Guest Lecture on November 17, 2021, 6:15 p.m.
Guest lecture by Dr. Antje du Bois-Pedain (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge) | Date, time: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, 6:15 p.m. | Venue: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Freiburg, Fürstenbergstr. 19 | Guests are welcome!
The problem of outcome responsibility, in criminal law, is the problem of providing a normative foundation for criminal-law practices that make outcomes relevant to criminal liability and sentencing – sometimes (as in the law of attempts) with relevant differences between intended and negligently-risked outcomes. My talk develops a conception of agency that can provide theoretical underpinning for these practices. As a first step, I defend the widely accepted view that producing an outcome (either as an intended or as a negligently-unlucky one) makes a difference: so long as the outcome can be imputed to the agent, it qualifies what the agent is responsible for. The object of assessment (“what D has done”) changes from “X activity” (minus the outcome) to “X activity with outcome”. Potentially much more contentious is the second step in my argument: the claim that how the outcome matters for our responsibility is affected by the question whether the outcome is the product of our intentions or whether it is the product of risks we have negligently created. This analysis explains many contentious features of the criminal law. However, it puts pressure on the justification for outcome-dependent crimes of negligence as such. For how can, on the assumption that we have a much less tight connection to negligently-risked outcomes than to intended ones, the criminal law’s practice of making the occurrence of the outcome the linchpin for most offences of criminal negligence, be defended?
Antje du Bois-Pedain is Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy at the Faculty of Law and Director of the Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. She was trained as a lawyer in Germany, received her Dr. iur. from Humboldt University Berlin, and in the U.K. (Magister Juris, University of Oxford). She has been based at the University of Cambridge since 2001. One strand of her work addresses the philosophical foundations of state punishment and their significance for the application of law, and law reform. Here, recent collaborative work includes edited volumes on Criminal Law and the Authority of the State (2017), on Penal Censure: Engagements Within and Beyond Desert Theory (2019) and on Re-reading Beccaria: On the Contemporary Significance of a Penal Classic (forthcoming). Another major strand of her work is in criminal law theory and doctrine, often with a comparative or transnational dimension. Here, she has recently written on participation in crime and on criminal-law causation, and is currently exploring outcome responsibility, as well as conceptions and functions of recklessness and negligence.