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Leora Dahan-Katz (HUJI) – ‘Excuse, Blameless and Fairness: Considering the Case of Impaired Moral Competence’ (Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy Seminar)

17 May 2023, 4:00 PM6:00 PM BST


This is the last meeting of the SCLP seminar this academic year. It will take place in the Law Library (5th Floor Frank Whittle Building), but the talk will also be available live on Zoom at https://surrey-ac.zoom.us/j/99453987662.

Pre-reading of the paper (available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NASJRWz-XKEF0DozUf_PNeLxD8k8Vw3u/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112957903177089757360&rtpof=true&sd=true) is optional.


When should a person who has committed a legal wrong be excused from criminal liability? Are the standards of blamelessness, fairness, reasonableness etc. in this context distinct or aligned, and what are the relations between them? In this paper, I turn to philosophical inquiry into excuse to make progress with respect to the question of exculpatory excuses in criminal law. I examine the test case of impaired moral competence, and more particularly, one’s impaired capacity to recognize relevant moral reasons due to history or culture and the question of whether this should mitigate (as suggested by a focus on the reduced quality of opportunity to recognize reasons in such cases) or aggravate (as is sometimes the case in law, and which may be the upshot of some quality of will views). I use the discussion surrounding the potential moral excuse of impaired moral competence to help illuminate general questions about excuses in the law.

About the Speaker

Leora Dahan Katz is an Assistant Professor at the Law Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on criminal law, criminal theory, legal philosophy and moral philosophy, with special focus on the philosophy of punishment.

Before joining the faculty, Dr. Dahan Katz held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Van Leer Jersualem Institute (2016-2019), as well as a fellowship at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, (Legitimization of Modern Criminal Law Research Group-2016).

Dr. Dahan Katz received her LL.M. and J.S.D. from the Yale Law School. During her time at Yale, Dr. Dahan Katz was a Lilian Goldman Fellow and Graduate Director and Fellow at the Yale Centre for Law and Philosophy, where she ran the centre’s activities as well as the Law and Philosophy Speaker Series. Prior to arriving at Yale, she tutored Jurisprudence at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she studied law, philosophy and English literature, completing her degrees magna cum laude. She has published articles in leading peer review journals, including Law and Philosophy, the University of Toronto Law Journal and Ethics. Her work has earned her a variety prizes including the Wolf Foundation Scholarship Prize, the IVR Young Scholar Prize, the Pepita Haezrahi Academic Excellence Prize and the Felix S. Choen Prize for Best Legal Philosophy Paper, as well as a research grant from the Israel Science Foundation.


17 May 2023
4:00 PM–6:00 PM BST
Event Category:


Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy, University of Surrey School of Law
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Surrey Centre for Law & Philosophy, University of Surrey School of Law
Frank Whittle Building, 5th Floor
Guildford, GU2 7XH United Kingdom
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