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Ken Levy
Louisiana State University
  1. Commentary on Szmukler: Mental Illness, Dangerousness, and Involuntary Civil Commitment.Ken Levy & Alex Cohen - 2016 - In Daniel D. Moseley Gary J. Gala (ed.), Philosophy and Psychiatry: Problems, Intersections, and New Perspectives. Routledge. pp. 147-160.
    Prof. Cohen and I answer six questions: (1) Why do we lock people up? (2) How can involuntary civil commitment be reconciled with people's constitutional right to liberty? (3) Why don't we treat homicide as a public health threat? (4) What is the difference between legal and medical approaches to mental illness? (5) Why is mental illness required for involuntary commitment? (6) Where are we in our efforts to understand the causes of mental illness?
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  2. Dangerous Psychopaths: Criminally Responsible But Not Morally Responsible, Subject to Criminal Punishment And to Preventive Detention.Ken Levy - 2011 - San Diego Law Review 48:1299-1395.
    I argue for two propositions. First, contrary to the common wisdom, we may justly punish individuals who are not morally responsible for their crimes. Psychopaths – individuals who lack the capacity to feel sympathy – help to prove this point. Scholars are increasingly arguing that psychopaths are not morally responsible for their behavior because they suffer from a neurological disorder that makes it impossible for them to understand, and therefore be motivated by, moral reasons. These same scholars then infer from (...)
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  3. Does Situationism Excuse? The Implications of Situationism for Moral Responsibility and Criminal Responsibility.Ken Levy - 2015 - Arkansas Law Review 68:731-787.
    In this Article, I will argue that a person may be deserving of criminal punishment even in certain situations where she is not necessarily morally responsible for her criminal act. What these situations share in common are two things: the psychological factors that motivate the individual’s behavior are environmentally determined and her crime is serious, making her less eligible for sympathy and therefore less likely to be acquitted. -/- To get to this conclusion, I will proceed in four steps. In (...)
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  4. Baumann on the Monty Hall Problem and Single-Case Probabilities.Ken Levy - 2007 - Synthese 158 (1):139-151.
    Peter Baumann uses the Monty Hall game to demonstrate that probabilities cannot be meaningfully applied to individual games. Baumann draws from this first conclusion a second: in a single game, it is not necessarily rational to switch from the door that I have initially chosen to the door that Monty Hall did not open. After challenging Baumann's particular arguments for these conclusions, I argue that there is a deeper problem with his position: it rests on the false assumption that what (...)
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  5. The Solution to the Real Blackmail Paradox: The Common Link Between Blackmail and Other Criminal Threats.Ken Levy - 2007 - Connecticut Law Review 39:1051-1096.
    Disclosure of true but reputation-damaging information is generally legal. But threats to disclose true but reputation-damaging information unless payment is made are generally criminal. Many scholars think that this situation is paradoxical because it seems to involve illegality mysteriously arising out of legality, a criminal act mysteriously arising out of an independently legal threat to disclose conjoined with an independently legal demand for money. -/- But this formulation is not quite right. The real paradox raised by the different legal statuses (...)
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  6. Why Retributivism Needs Consequentialism: The Rightful Place of Revenge in the Criminal Justice System.Ken Levy - 2014 - Rutgers Law Review 66:629-684.
    Consider the reaction of Trayvon Martin’s family to the jury verdict. They were devastated that George Zimmerman, the defendant, was found not guilty of manslaughter or murder. Whatever the merits of this outcome, what does the Martin family’s emotional reaction mean? What does it say about criminal punishment – especially the reasons why we punish? Why did the Martin family want to see George Zimmerman go to jail? And why were – and are – they so upset that he didn’t? (...)
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  7. Why the Late Justice Scalia Was Wrong: The Fallacies of Constitutional Textualism.Ken Levy - 2017 - Lewis and Clark Law Review 21 (1):45-96.
    My article concerns constitutional interpretation and substantive due process, issues that played a central role in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), one of the two same-sex marriage cases. (The other same-sex marriage case was United States v. Windsor (2013).) -/- The late Justice Scalia consistently maintained that the Court “invented” substantive due process and continues to apply this legal “fiction” not because the Constitution supports it but simply because the justices like it. Two theories underlay his cynical conclusion. First is the (...)
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  8. Insanity Defenses.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Ken Levy - 2011 - In John Deigh & David Dolinko (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of the Criminal Law. Oxford University Press. pp. 299--334.
    We explicate and evaluate arguments both for and against the insanity defense itself, different versions of the insanity defense (M'Naghten, Model Penal Code, and Durham (or Product)), the Irresistible Impulse rule, and various reform proposals.
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  9. Blocking Blockage.Ken Levy - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):565-583.
    The Blockage Argument is designed to improve upon Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by removing the counterfactual intervener altogether. If the argument worked, then it would prove in a way that Frankfurt’s argument does not that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, not even the weakest “flicker of freedom”. -/- Some philosophers have rejected the Blockage Argument solely on the basis of their intuition that the inability to do otherwise is incompatible with (...)
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  10. On the Rationalist Solution to Gregory Kavka's Toxin Puzzle.Ken Levy - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (2):267-289.
    Gregory Kavka's 'Toxin Puzzle' suggests that I cannot intend to perform a counter-preferential action A even if I have a strong self-interested reason to form this intention. The 'Rationalist Solution,' however, suggests that I can form this intention. For even though it is counter-preferential, A-ing is actually rational given that the intention behind it is rational. Two arguments are offered for this proposition that the rationality of the intention to A transfers to A-ing itself: the 'Self-Promise Argument' and David Gauthier's (...)
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  11. Is Descartes a Temporal Atomist?Ken Levy - 2005 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (4):627 – 674.
    I argue that Descartes' Second Causal Proof of God in the Third Meditation evidences, and commits him to, the belief that time is "strongly discontinuous" -- that is, that there is actually a gap between each consecutive moment of time. Much of my article attempts to reconcile this interpretation, the "received view," with Descartes' statements about time, space, and matter in his other writings, including his correspondence with various philosophers.
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  12. It's Not Too Difficult: A Plea to Resurrect the Impossibility Defense.Ken Levy - 2014 - New Mexico Law Revview 45:225-274.
    Suppose you are at the gym trying to see some naked beauties by peeping through a hole in the wall. A policeman happens by, he asks you what you are doing, and you honestly tell him. He then arrests you for voyeurism. Are you guilty? We don’t know yet because there is one more fact to be considered: while you honestly thought that a locker room was on the other side of the wall, it was actually a squash court. Are (...)
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  13. Killing, Letting Die, and the Case for Mildly Punishing Bad Samaritanism.Ken Levy - 2010 - Georgia Law Review 44:607-695.
    For over a century now, American scholars (among others) have been debating the merits of “bad Samaritan” laws — laws punishing people for failing to attempt easy and safe rescues. Unfortunately, the opponents of bad Samaritan laws have mostly prevailed. In the United States, the “no-duty-to-rescue” rule dominates. Only four states have passed bad Samaritan laws, and these laws impose only the most minimal punishment — either sub-$500 fines or short-term imprisonment. -/- This Article argues that every state should criminalize (...)
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  14. The Solution to the Problem of Outcome Luck: Why Harm Is Just as Punishable as the Wrongful Action That Causes It.Ken Levy - 2005 - Law and Philosophy 24 (3):263-303.
    A surprisingly large number of scholars believe that (a) we are blameworthy, and therefore punishable, only for what we have control over; (b) we have control only over our actions and intentions, not the consequences of our actions; and therefore (c) if two agents perform the very same action (e.g., attempting to kill) with the very same intentions, then they are equally blameworthy and deserving of equal punishment – even if only one of them succeeds in killing. This paper argues (...)
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  15. Gonzales V. Oregon and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Ethical and Policy Issues.Ken Levy - 2007 - Tulsa Law Review 42:699-729.
    The euthanasia literature typically discusses the difference between “active” and “passive” means of ending a patient’s life. Physician-assisted suicide differs from both active and passive forms of euthanasia insofar as the physician does not administer the means of suicide to the patient. Instead, she merely prescribes and dispenses them to the patient and lets the patient “do the rest” – if and when the patient chooses. One supposed advantage of this process is that it maximizes the patient’s autonomy with respect (...)
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  16.  57
    Trying to Make Sense of Criminal Attempts. [REVIEW]Ken Levy - 2016 - Jurisprudence 7 (3):656-664.
    Issues include attempts generally; the problem of outcome luck; the impossibility defense; physical movement and intent; and reckless attempts, attempted rape, and attempted theft. In the final section, I offer a hypothetical that challenges Prof. Donnelly-Lazarov's theory.
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  17. Why It Is Sometimes Fair to Blame Agents for Unavoidable Actions and Omissions.Ken Levy - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (2):93 - 104.
    It is generally thought that ought implies can. If this maxim is correct, then my inability to do otherwise entails that I cannot be blamed for failing to do otherwise. In this article, however, I use Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the "Principle of Alternative Possibilities" (PAP) to show that the maxim is actually false, that I can be blamed for failing to do otherwise even in situations where I could not have done otherwise. In these situations, I do not (...)
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  18. Hume, the New Hume, and Causal Connections.Ken Levy - 2000 - Hume Studies 26 (1):41-75.
    In this article, I weigh in on the debate between "Humeans" and "New Humeans" concerning David Hume's stance on the existence of causal connections in "the objects." According to New Humeans, Hume believes in causal connections; according to Humeans, he does not. -/- My argument against New Humeans is that it is too difficult to reconcile Hume's repeated claims that causal connections are inconceivable with any belief that they these inconceivable somethings still exist. Specifically, Hume either assumes or does not (...)
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