In Defence of Defences
This chapter considers the tenability and importance of the distinction, often drawn by criminal lawyers, between ‘offences’ and ‘defences’. Various eliminative interpretations of the distinction are rejected, and the view is defended that justifying a wrong is importantly different from denying it. The moral (and more generally rational) importance of this distinction between denying and justifying wrongdoing is developed and illustrated in the first half of the chapter. The second half of the chapter tackles the further distinction, within defences, between justificatory and excusatory defences. It tries to show that excusatory defences are more like justificatory defences, and less like denials of responsibility, than has usually been supposed.
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