UCL Faculty of Laws


Grounding leniency towards child criminals

08 June 2016, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

Hand on Fence

Event Information

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Yale-UCL Workshop in Legal Philosophy


UCL Pearson G22 LT, Pearson Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Speaker: Professor Gideon Yaffe (Yale Law School)
Admission: Free

The Yale-UCL Workshop in Legal Philosophy is an annual seminar series alternating between UCL and Yale. It features work in progress presented by UCL and Yale Faculty, as well as speakers from other universities. It is co-convened by Professor Scott Shapiro (Yale Law School) and Professor George Letsas (University College London).

About the lecture

Professor Gideon Yaffe argue’s that children are deserving of a break when they commit crimes not because of their psychological or neural immaturity but because they are denied the vote and so denied a full say over the law.  Towards this end, an account of what it is to have a say over the law is developed, and it is argued that those who have a diminished say over the law have weaker legal reasons to comply with criminal prohibitions than do those who have a full say.  When this view is coupled with a theory of criminal culpability, under which one’s degree of criminal culpability is in part a matter of the strength of the reasons to refrain that one disregards, it follows that those with a diminished say over the law are reduced in culpability.  This implies that children are diminished in culpability for their crimes in comparison to even neurally and psychologically identical adults.  It is in virtue of this fact, Professor Yaffe claim’s, that they are owed more lenient treatment than adult criminals.  This is a chapter excerpted from a book manuscript in progress.

About the speaker

Gideon Yaffe is a Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology at Yale. Prior to joining Yale in 2012, he was a Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Southern California. His research interests include the philosophy of law, particularly criminal law; the study of metaphysics including causation, free will and personal identity; and the study of intention and the theory of action. He has also written about the history of early modern philosophy. Professor Yaffe is a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project and collaborates with several neuroscientists to devise experiments that aim to be of legal and philosophical significance. His 2010 book “Attempts” concerns the philosophical foundations of the law governing attempted crimes. He holds an A.B. in philosophy from Harvard and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford.