Intoxicants and Culpability

Professor Doug Husak
I argue against attempts to understand the effect of intoxication on culpability as a specific instance of the general problem of actio libera in causa. With a small caveat, I contend that we need not consider what the intoxicated defendant did at t1 (when he became intoxicated) to assess his degree of culpability at t2 (when he committed the offense). In order to justify the punishment of intoxicated defendants, we need only consider them at t2. In the course of defending my position, I challenge conventional wisdom both about the nature of culpability and about the effects of intoxicants.