The Reasonable Person in Canon Law

Author Details

Dr. Johnny M Sakr

Journal Details


Published: 30 May 2023 | Article Type : Research Article


This paper examines whether the canon law legal system used objective standards to judge human behaviour. The focus of this paper is on canon law before the revision of the Corpus Juris Canonici in 1582 AD. The author evaluates whether objective standards, such as the reasonable person standard of English common law, are also prevalent in canon law. The paper begins by defining the terms ‘canon law’ and ‘ecclesiastical law’ and briefly discussing the historical influence of ecclesiastical law on the English legal system. The author shows that the Didascalia Apostolorum, a handbook for the churches written around c 250 AD, used a fictitious ‘wise man’ as an objective standard to judge human behaviour.

The paper continues by demonstrating that canon law used objective standards to assess whether a person was guilty of voluntary or involuntary homicide. Canon law identified circumstances that reduced a person’s guilt from voluntary to involuntary homicide by inferring their intent. If someone accused of voluntary homicide could demonstrate that their actions were reasonable under the circumstances, their guilt was reduced. Canon law also used an objective standard, the homo constantissimus, to address duress.
Overall, the paper shows that canon law shared a similar approach to assessing human behaviour as other legal systems.

Keywords: Reasonable Man, Canon Law, Objective Standards, Jurisprudence.

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Volume & Issue

Article Type

Research Article

How to Cite


Dr. Johnny M Sakr. (2023-05-30). "The Reasonable Person in Canon Law." *Volume 6*, 1, 1-14