Gorr on Actus Reus
Jeffrie G. Murphy
Arizona State University College of Law
Criminal Justice Ethics, Vol. 10, p. 18, 1991
This article analyzes Professor Gorr’s arguments about the actus reus requirement in criminal law. Gorr does not think that a fundamental reconceputalization of actus reus is in order, but his criticisms of those who argue for a fundamental reconceptualization fail. Under the heading of the actus reus requirement fourt different issues bearing on criminal liability are subsumed: (1) the law usually does not punish omissions, (2) the law usually does not punish for status alone, (3) the law usually does not punish for thoughts alone, and (4) the law usually does not punish for involuntary behavior. Traditional actus reus theory maintains that a requirement of a physical act is what unites them all, but critics persuasively show that this requirement will not work. However, the critics have failed to identify an alternative universal unifying principle. Perhaps, then, it is just a laundry list and any attempt to impose a common principle that unites what really are four important but quite different principles is simply, what Herbert Hart has called 'uniformity at the price of distortion.'
Number of Pages in PDF File: 2
Keywords: Criminal Law, Actus Reus, Professor GorrAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 6, 2009
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