Drawing on recent research in the philosophy of the emotions and empirical 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 emotionally motivated killing, where there may not be any ‘loss of self-control’ as such.
- Criminal defences
- Loss of self-control