and the Insanity Defense
by John M. Whelan, Jr.
I attempt to describe and defend an alternative definition of insanity. I
claim that my definition follows from an adequate general understanding
of legal excuse and that it describes correctly the question that jurors
in the recent Andrea Yates case and others like it ought to be faced with.
My essay has three parts. In the first, I briefly criticize M'Naghten- and
Durham-inspired insanity statutes. In the second, I sketch and defend a
general understanding of legal excuse and try to show how an adequate
insanity statute follows from it. Finally, in the third section, I describe
and defend a rough version of the statute itself. In the course of doing so,
I try to explain why I believe that statute is superior to the American Law
Institute's various model insanity statutes.