Duff on Attempts


Larry Alexander

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Antony Duff has had an immense amount to say about crime and punishment. There is hardly any topic within that vast domain on which he hasn’t commented, and commented with great intelligence. Among the doctrinal precincts of criminal law, however, there is only one to which Duff devoted an entire book, and that is the law of attempts. And it is Duff’s elaboration and criticisms of the law of attempts, primarily as they are presented in that book, on which I shall comment in this chapter. My way of presenting Duff’s ideas on attempts will be by contrasting his ideas with my interpretation of orthodox doctrine, particularly as that is reflected in the Model Penal Code. As I proceed through the doctrinal elements of attempts, I shall first give my take on the orthodox doctrine regarding the element in question and then give Duff’s view on how that element should be handled. Near the end of the chapter I shall present my own views about attempts.