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Harm and Culpability$
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A. P. Simester and A. T. H. Smith

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198260578

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260578.001.0001

Justifications and Reasons

Chapter:
(p.102) (p.103) 5 Justifications and Reasons
Source:
Harm and Culpability
Author(s):

John Gardner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260578.003.0013

Justifications and reasons are closely related. Reasons may be either guiding or explanatory. The issue is whether justification depends on guiding reasons or on explanatory reasons. Are a person's actions and beliefs justified by the reasons which are actually applied to that person, or by the reasons which, perhaps mistakenly, that person thought applied to them and accordingly treated, in their acting or believing, as if they were reasons which actually applied to them? Faced with this question, some have come to the view that there are two different perspectives or points of view from which a person's actions or beliefs may be justified: ‘subjective’ justification, which depends on explanatory reasons, and ‘objective’ justification, which depends on guiding reasons. It is widely thought that excuses are more ‘subjective’ than justifications. A related but distinct objection to the full legal implementation of the contrast between justification and excuse contrast points to the limited moral resources of the criminal law.

Keywords:   reasons, justifications, guiding reasons, explanatory reasons, beliefs, actions, subjective justification, objective justification, excuse, criminal law

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