Criminal Law, Philosophy https://doi.org/10.1007/s11572-018-9467-8 ORIGINAL PAPER Anger, Provocation and Loss of Self‑Control: What Does ‘Losing It’ Really Mean? Sarah Sorial © Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018 Abstract Drawing on recent research in the philosophy of the emotions and empir- ical evidence from social psychology, this paper argues that the concept of loss of self-control at common law mischaracterises the relationship between the emotions and their effects on action. Emotions do not undermine reason in the ways offenders describe (and courts sometimes accept); nor do they compel people to act in ways they cannot control. As such, the idea of ‘loss of self-control’ is an inaccurate and misleading description of the psychological mechanisms at play in cases of emotion- ally motivated killing, where there may not be any ‘loss of self-control’ as such. Keywords Criminal defences · Provocation · Loss of self-control · Emotions The defence of provocation is a partial defence to murder. If successful, it reduces a potential murder conviction to one of manslaughter. At the heart of the defence is the idea of ‘loss of self-control.’ Defendants often describe the experience of losing self-control as one where they ‘snap’ or ‘crack’ in response to the provocation, and ‘explode’ into
Criminal Law and Philosophy – Springer Journals
Published: May 30, 2018
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