Amicus Brief on Insanity Defense in Kansas Case (Gideon Yaffe): UPDATE: Signatures Needed by 4 p.m. TODAY (May 29)!!

Gideon Yaffe (Yale) writes with the following very important information:
I’m writing to ask for your signature on this amicus brief which concerns Kahler v. Kansas, a case that the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear.  The state of Kansas abolished the insanity defense.  Mr. Kahler, who is severely mentally ill, murdered his family and was convicted at trial after being barred from offering an insanity defense.  The question is whether the Constitution requires a state to offer one.

I was asked by the Northwestern Supreme Court clinic to write a short amicus brief on behalf of philosophers arguing, as I believe, that basic principles of justice require that criminal defendants be given an opportunity to defend themselves through an insanity defense.  I am hoping that you will agree to sign the brief.  Law professors with significant background or interest in philosophy are also encouraged to sign.

Time is too short to revise the brief at this stage, unfortunately.  It is intended as a consensus document, and so it is intended to abstract away from disagreements about the nature of moral or criminal responsibility, and about disagreements about what liberal toleration requires.  My hope is that we can all agree that sanity is a precondition of criminal responsibility and that toleration does not require us to accept a state’s judgement to the contrary.

If you are willing to sign, please reply or send a brief email to gideon.yaffe@yale.edu expressing your willingness to sign and including two sentences describing yourself of the form “[Your Name] is [title] at [Your university].  She has published extensively about [e.g. moral responsibility and blame].” 

The sooner you can reply, the better.  But preferably before Friday, May 31. [UPDATE: ALL SIGNATURES NOW NEED TO BE IN PRIOR TO 4 P.M. EST TODAY, MAY 29!]

5 Replies to “Amicus Brief on Insanity Defense in Kansas Case (Gideon Yaffe): UPDATE: Signatures Needed by 4 p.m. TODAY (May 29)!!

  1. Thanks to those who have so far agreed to sign this amicus brief! Below, I’m pasting the list so far. I will continue to add names until Friday. If you would like me to add your name, please email me at gideon.yaffe@yale.edu expressing your willingness to sign and including two sentences describing yourself of the form “[Your Name] is [title] at [Your university]. She has published extensively about [e.g. moral responsibility and blame].”

    ——————-

    Gideon Yaffe is the Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Yale Law School. He has published books and articles concerned with criminal responsibility and the philosophy of criminal law.

    Eyal Aharoni is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Georgia State University. He has published extensively about moral reasoning, legal responsibility, and criminal punishment.

    Richard J. Arneson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. He has written on issues in social justice and on personal deservingness and moral responsibility themes.

    Marcia Baron is James H. Rudy Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University, Bloomington. She has published extensively on justifications and excuses and on criminal law defenses.

    Gustavo Beade is Professor of Law at the University of Buenos Aires. He has published on excuses and justifications in criminal law.

    Michael E. Bratman is U. G. and Abbie Birch Durfee Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. He has published extensively about intention, individual and shared, and about practical rationality.

    David O. Brink is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego and Affiliate Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. His research is in ethical theory, moral psychology, and criminal law — including responsibility, excuse, and insanity.

    Joe Campbell is Professor in Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at Washington State University. He has published extensively about free will, moral responsibility, and blame.

    Stephen Darwall is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. He has written widely on issues of moral responsibility and the nature and justification of moral blame.

    John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and University Professor in the University of California. He has published extensively on freedom, competence, and moral responsibility.

    Stephen P. Garvey is professor of law at Cornell Law School. He has written about the nature of the insanity defense and sanity as necessary condition for the legitimacy of criminal liability.

    Heidi M. Hurd is the Ross and Helen Workman Chair in Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Dean Emerita of the University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, IL. She has an extensive portfolio of publications concerning the core criteria for legal and moral blame and punishment.

    Douglas Husak is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. He has written extensively about criminal responsibility and the philosophy of law.

    Shelly Kagan is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He has written widely on various topics in moral philosophy, including the nature of desert.

    Krista Lawlor is Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. She has published extensively about knowledge and self-knowledge.

    Edwin McCann is Professor of Philosophy and English at the University of Southern California. He has published work on the topic of free will and determinism, especially as it relates to the causation of action.

    Douglas MacLean is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He teaches and has published articles on moral philosophy, public policy, and law.

    Daniel Markovits is Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has written extensively about equality, desert and political legitimacy.

    Andrei Marmor is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Philosophy and Law at Cornell University. He has published extensively in legal and moral philosophy as well as constitutional theory.

    Alfred R. Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of 12 books and over 200 articles concerned with agency and responsibility.

    Dale E. Miller is a Philosophy Professor and Associate Dean at Old Dominion University. He is a native Kansan and has published extensively on topics in moral philosophy.

    Michael S. Moore is holder of the Walgreen Chair in Law, Philosophy, and Advanced Studies at the University of Illinois. He has written about insanity and other responsibility issues in the criminal law for many years and was most recently advisor to the Norwegian Parliamentary Commission on the Insanity Defense.

    Stephen J. Morse is Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written extensively on the philosophy of criminal responsibility and the relation of mental disorder to responsibility.

    Eddy Nahmias is Professor and Chair of Philosophy, and an Associate Faculty member in the Neuroscience Institute, at Georgia State University. He has published numerous articles and chapters on free will and moral responsibility, and is currently working on punishment theory.

    Dana Kay Nelkin is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego and Affiliate Professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. She has published extensively on moral responsibility, blame, and criminal wrongdoing.

    John Oberdiek is Professor of Law at Rutgers University. He has published extensively about rights and responsibility.

    Jonathan Parry is Lecturer in Philosophy at The University of Birmingham, UK. He has published extensively on the morality of homicide and related issues in legal philosophy.

    Douglas W. Portmore is Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University. He has published extensively about morality, rationality, blame, and responsibility.

    Piers Rawling is Professor & Chair of Philosophy at Florida State University. He has published extensively about ethics.

    Andrews Reath is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. He has written extensively about Kant’s moral philosophy and contemporary Kantian approaches to moral philosophy.

    Massimo Renzo is Professor of Politics, Philosophy and Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. He has published extensively on the philosophy of criminal law, political authority and human rights.

    Samuel C. Rickless is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California San Diego and Affiliate Professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. He has published on moral responsibility and criminal wrongdoing.

    Gideon Rosen is Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University. He has published extensively on the theory of moral blame and moral responsibility.

    Alexander Sarch is an Associate Professor (Reader) and Head of School at University of Surrey School of Law in the United Kingdom. He has published extensively about criminal culpability, mental states and the justification of punishment.

    Thomas M. Scanlon is the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He has written extensively about moral philosophy, responsibility and blame.

    David Shoemaker is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy & Murphy Institute of Political Economy at Tulane University. He has published extensively on issues in agency and responsibility and is the general editor of Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility.

    Susanna Siegel is Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She has published extensively in the philosophy of mind and rationality.

    Katrina L. Sifferd is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Elmhurst College. She has published extensively about criminal and moral responsibility.

    Alison Simmons is Samuel H. Wolcott Professor of Philosophy; Interim Chair of the Department of Philosophy; and Co-Director of Embedded EthiCS at Harvard University. She has published extensively on early modern philosophy.

    Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics at Duke University. He has published extensively about ethics, neuroscience, moral psychology, philosophy of law, responsibility, and mental illness.

    David Sobel is Irwin and Marjorie Guttag Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy. He has written extensively in ethics and co-edits the series Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.

    Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He has published extensively on topics in philosophy of language, epistemology and political philosophy.

    Manuel Vargas is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. He has published extensively on blame, moral responsibility, and free will.

    J. David Velleman is a Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics at New York University. He has published extensively on moral psychology and the foundations of ethics.

    Gary Watson is Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus, at the University of Southern California. He has published extensively on the topics of moral and criminal responsibility, including the insanity defense.

    Ralph Wedgwood is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He has published extensively about ethics and the theory of rationality.

    Susan Wolf is Edna J Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published extensively on the subjects of moral responsibility and blame.

    Benjamin S. Yost is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Providence College. He has published a book and several articles on the philosophy of capital punishment.

  2. Thanks to all who have signed so far! The list of names has too many characters to post here. But here it is so far:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/be8v5udqdxohhi0/Signatories%20as%20of%205-29.pdf?dl=0

    Again, if you have not signed and would like to, please email me at gideon.yaffe@yale.edu expressing your willingness to sign and including two sentences describing yourself of the form “[Your Name] is [title] at [Your university]. She has published extensively about [e.g. moral responsibility and blame].”

  3. Thanks to the many of you on this list who agreed to sign the amicus brief in Kahler v. Kansas. The brief now has around 90 signatures from philosophers, which is terrific; this is many more than is common for an amicus brief.

    I just learned from the lawyer who will be filing the brief that because of inevitable logistical delays and his schedule, we will need to send the brief to the printer before 4:00 today. This is two days earlier than I expected. So, if you have not yet signed, and might still be interested in doing so, please let me know right away. I apologize for the sudden urgency.

    If you forwarded the request for signatures to others, and are so inclined, I would be grateful if you could also let them know that the deadline has moved up by two days.

    When the brief is filed, I will circulate it to all of those who signed. And let’s all hope that the court will take notice.

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