A Rosetta Stone for Causation

32 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2018 Last revised: 5 Apr 2018

See all articles by Martin Katz

Martin Katz

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: February 5, 2018


The law of mental causation — or motives — is a mess. It is as if writers in the field are using different languages to describe a multiplicity of causal concepts. The plethora of causal terms and lack of definitional clarity make it difficult to understand the relationship among causal concepts within a single area of law, let alone across substantive areas of law. To reach a clear and consistent understanding of this mess, it would be useful to have a Rosetta Stone — a translation key describing causal concepts and the relationships among those concepts in a precise and universal way. Andrew Verstein’s article, The Jurisprudence of Mixed Motives, comes close to reaching this ideal. However, his model suffers from two critical flaws: failing to justify a key analytical move and using terminology that is more confusing than it is universal. In this Response, I suggest remedies to those problems as well as a way to transform Verstein’s model into a Rosetta Stone for mental causation.

Suggested Citation

Katz, Martin, A Rosetta Stone for Causation (February 5, 2018). 127 YALE L.J. F. 877 (2018), U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3118337

Martin Katz (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Ave., 460B
Denver, CO 80208
United States

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