Many criminal law scholars have criticized the Model Penal Code’s restrictive conception of culpability as awareness of risk, and have sought to incorporate motives and desires into culpoability analysis. In his excellent book Judging Evil, Samuel Pillsbury has applied this richer conception of culpability to homicide law. The result is a comprehensive theory of homicide liability, unified by an effort to predicate liability on deficient moral reasoning rather than merely awareness of risk. This review essay explicates and commends Pillsbury’s theory but also criticizes one crucial deficiency. Pillsbury shrinks from one of the most obvious but potentially most controversial implications of his premises for the law of homicide: the legitimacy of felony murder liability. The essay outlines a defense of felony murder on the basis of Pillsbury’s premises, and concludes that such an argument would have enhanced the coherence, comprehensiveness and significance of his theory.
Buffalo Criminal Law Review
Published as Guyora Binder, Meaning and Motive in the Law of Homicide (reviewing Samuel H. Pillsbury, Judging Evil: Rethinking the Law of Murder and Manslaughter), 3 Buff. Crim. L. Rev. 755 (2000). © 2000 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
Meaning and Motive in the Law of Homicide (reviewing Samuel H. Pillsbury, Judging Evil: Rethinking the Law of Murder and Manslaughter),
Buff. Crim. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.buffalo.edu/book_reviews/60