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ISBN 0-8126-9576-3
$34.95       paper
273 pages
(2005)
 
 
 

Five Ways Patricia Can Kill Her Husband
A Theory of Intentionality and Blame

Leo Zaibert

In Five Ways Patricia Can Kill Her Husband, Leo Zaibert develops a new theory to explain how and why we blame. He maintains that culpability is concerned exclusively with the intentional mental states persons have at the time they act, and that intended evil is never less blameworthy than unintended evil.
     Although many philosophers have touched upon blame, they have generally treated it partially and in passing. Professor Zaibert reviews the history of theories of culpability, exposing many of their shortcomings. The evolution of thinking about culpability from the days of lex talionis to the present day shows more continuity than has been generally appreciated. There is a continuity from Aristotle’s definition of akousios actions to the contemporary concept of recklessness, from Bentham’s concept of oblique intention to the felony murder rule, and from Paulus to contemporary debates about the normativity of mental states or about negligent behavior.
     The very logical structure of intentions gives rise to significant normative claims. Intentions have such important normative force that they properly constitute the skeleton of a theory of culpability. In his analysis of blaming, the author carefully avoids the fault of much past theorizing, which runs together the phenomenon of blaming with its communication and with punishment. Blaming, it turns out, is a mental phenomenon which entails both endorsing a set of beliefs and experiencing an irreducible emotion.

“In this powerful and dazzling work, Leo Zaibert uses the tools of contemporary philosophy of mind to shed new light on the age-old problem of how intentions affect culpability. He shows us not only how the mental states of wrongdoers are tied to the responsibility they bear for their actions, but also how, on this basis, we can construct a theory of objective blameworthiness that can serve as a model for the moral science of the future.”
 
Barry Smith
Author of Austrian Philosophy: The Legacy of Franz Brentano

  Five Ways Patricia Can Kill Her Husband is one of those special books that brings new insight to bear on a familiar subject. Leo Zaibert makes an important contribution to our understanding of the relationship of intention and blame, and articulates a powerful and convincing theory of culpability. I came away from this book impressed by the range and the depth of learning Zaibert displays, and braced by my encounter with the work of a first-rate philosopher.”
Austin Sarat
Author of
When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition

 Leo Zaibert is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the University of Leipzig/University of Saarland. He is author of Punishment and Retribution (forthcoming 2005) and many articles and book chapters on philosophy of criminal law, philosophy of mind and action, ethics, and social and political philosophy.

          


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