Gideon Yaffe

Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology

(on leave, 2015–2016)

Gideon Yaffe is a Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology at Yale. His research interests include the philosophy of law, particularly criminal law; the study of metaphysics including causation, free will and personal identity; and the study of intention and the theory of action. 


Contact Information

Yale Law School

P.O. Box 208215

New Haven, CT 06520

Education & Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D., Stanford, 1998

A.B., Harvard, 1992

Courses Taught

  • Criminal Law and Administration
  • Philosophy of Law

Gideon Yaffe is a Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology at Yale. Prior to joining Yale in 2012, he was a Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Southern California. His research interests include the philosophy of law, particularly criminal law; the study of metaphysics including causation, free will and personal identity; and the study of intention and the theory of action. He has also written about the history of early modern philosophy. Professor Yaffe is a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project and collaborates with several neuroscientists to devise experiments that aim to be of legal and philosophical significance. His 2010 book “Attempts” concerns the philosophical foundations of the law governing attempted crimes. He holds an A.B. in philosophy from Harvard and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford.



Oxford University Press
Liberty Worth the Name:
Locke on Free Agency

Princeton University Press
Manifest Activity:
Thomas Reid's Theory of Action

Oxford University Press


Law and Action Theory

Intoxication, Recklessness and Negligence”, forthcoming in a special issue of Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, edited by Mitchell Berman

“Attempt, Risk-Creation and Change of Mind: Reflections on Herzog”, forthcoming in Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.

Prevention and Imminence, Pre-punishment and Actuality”, forthcoming in a special issue of the San Diego Law Review, edited by Larry Alexander.

“Are Addicts Akratic?: Interpreting the Neuroscience of Reward”, forthcoming in Addiction and Self-Control, edited by Neil Levy, Oxford University Press.

“Moore on Causing, Acting and Complicity”, forthcoming in Legal Theory.

“The Voluntary Act Requirement”, forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Law, edited by Andrei Marmor.

“Trying to Kill the Dead: De Re and De Dicto Intention in Attempted Crimes” in Philosophical Foundations of Law & Language, edited by Andrei Marmor and Scott Soames, Oxford University Press. 2011

“Lowering the Bar for Addicts” in Addiction and Responsibility, edited by George Graham and Jeffrey Poland, MIT Press. 2011

“A Procedural Rationale for the Necessity Defense” in Responsibility in Morality and Law, edited by Susan Dimock, a special issue of The Journal of Value Inquiry, v. 43, 2009.

“Excusing Mistakes of Law” in Philosopher’s Imprint, 2009.

Libet and the Criminal Law’s Voluntary Act Requirement” in Conscious Will and Responsibility, edited by Lynn Nadel and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Oxford University Press. 2011

Trying, Acting and Attempted Crimes” in Law and Philosophy, 2008.

“Reasonableness in the Law and Second-Personal Address” in Loyola Law Review, v. 40, 2007.

Trying, Intending and Attempted Crimes” in Philosophical Topics, v. 32, 2006

“’The Government Beguiled Me’: The Entrapment Defense and the Problem of Private Entrapment” in The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, v.1, 2005.

“Conditional Intent and Mens Rea” in Legal Theory, v. 10, 2004.

"Indoctrination, Coercion, and Freedom of Will" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, v. 67, n. 2, September 2003.

"Recent Work on Addiction and Responsible Agency" in Philosophy and Public Affairs, v. 30, n. 2, Spr. 2001.

Free Will and Agency at Its Best” in Philosophical Perspectives, v. 14, edited by James Tomberlin, Oxford University Press, 2000.

‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’ and the Principle of Alternate Possibilities” in Analysis, v. 59, n.3, July 1999.

“Velleman on Intentions as Reasons for Action” in Analysis, v. 55, n. 2, April, 1995

Early Modern Philosophy

Locke on Consciousness, Personal Identity and the Idea of Duration” in Noûs, 2011

“Beyond the Brave Officer: Reid on the Unity of the Mind and Locke’s Theory Personal Identity” in Thomas Reid on Ethics, edited by Sabine Roeser, Palgrave-Macmillan Press, 2009.

Thomas Reid on Consciousness and Attention” in Canadian Journal of Philosophy, v. 39, 2009.

“Promises, Social Acts and Reid’s First Argument for Moral Liberty” in Journal of the History of Philosophy, v. 45, 2007.

“Berkeley and the ‘Mighty Difficulty’: The Idealist Lesson of the Inverted Retinal Image” in Philosophical Topics, v. 31, 2005.

"Locke on Ideas of Substance and the Veil of Perception" in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly v. 85, 2004.

“Peach Trees, Gravity and God: Mechanism in Locke” (with Marleen Rozemond) in The British Journal for the History of Philosophy, v. 12, n. 3, 2004.

"Reid on the Perception of Visible Figure" in Journal of Scottish Philosophy, v. 1, n. 2, 2003.

The Office of an Introspectible Sensation: A Reply to Falkenstein and Grand" Journal of Scottish Philosophy, v. 1, n. 2, 2003.

Reconsidering Reid's Geometry of Visibles in Philosophical Quarterly, v. 52, n. 209, October 2002. Reprinted in The Philosophy of Thomas Reid, edited by John Haldane and Stephen Read, Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

"Reconsidering Reid's Geometry of Visibles" on Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository, 2002.

Locke on Suspending, Refraining and the Freedom to Will” in History of Philosophy Quarterly, v. 18, n. 4, October 2001.

“Freedom, Natural Necessity and the Categorical Imperative” in Kant-Studien, v. 86, 1995.

Other Topics

“Time in the Movies” in Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Meaning in the Arts, v 2003.


Intention in the Law” in Companion to the Philosophy of Action, Wiley-Blackwell. 

“Harmfulness, Wrongfulness, Lesser Evils and Risk-Creation: A Comment on Husak’s Overcriminalization” in The Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies. 

Critical Response to Stephen Darwall’s The Second-Person Standpoint: Morality, Respect and Accountability in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 

Critical Response to John Fischer’s My Way in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 

“The Real Link Between Imminence and Necessity” in Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press, 2009. 

“Free Will and Volition” in The Encyclopedia of Locke and His Times, Thoemmes Continuum Press. 

Review of James Harris’s Of Liberty and Necessity: The Free Will Debate in Eighteenth Century British Philosophy in Mind, v. 117, April 2008. 

Review of Randolph Clarke’s Libertarian Accounts of Free Will in The Journal of Ethics, 2007. 

“Locke on Identity and the Identity of Persons” in The Cambridge Companion Locke’s ‘Essay’, edited by Lex Newman, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

“Waldron’s Locke and Locke’s Waldron: Review of Jeremy Waldron’s God, Locke, and Equality” (with Nomi Stolzenberg) in Inquiry, v. 49, n. 2, April 2006. 

“Shaftesbury” in The Blackwell Companion to Early Modern Philosophy, edited by Steven Nadler, Blackwell Publishing, 2002. 

“Review of Nicholas Jolley, Locke: His Philosophical Thought” in The British Journal for the History of Philosophy, June 2000. 

"Review of J. Fischer and M. Ravizza, Responsibility and Control: A Theory o Responsibility" in Erkenntnis, December 2000.