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Access_open A new interpretation of the modern two-pronged tests for insanity

Why legal insanity should not be a ‘status defense’

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2018
Keywords substantive criminal law, excuses, insanity defense, status defense
Authors Johannes Bijlsma
AbstractAuthor's information

    Michael Moore has argued that modern two-pronged tests for legal insanity are wrongheaded and that the insanity defense instead should be a ‘status defense’. If Moore is right, than the laws on insanity in most legal systems are wrong. This merits a critical examination of Moore’s critique and his alternative approach. In this paper I argue that Moore’s status approach to insanity is either under- or overinclusive. A new interpretation of the modern tests for insanity is elaborated that hinges on the existence of a legally relevant difference between the mentally disordered defendant and the ‘normal’ defendant. This interpretation avoids Moore’s criticism as well as the pitfalls of the status approach.


Johannes Bijlsma
Johannes Bijlsma is assistant professor of criminal law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Willem Witteveen PhD

    Book review of Ronald Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs


Iris van Domselaar
Iris van Domselaar is Researcher/Lecturer in Legal Philosophy and Legal Ethics at the Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam.
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