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Vol 21 No 10 Oct/Nov 2016

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Criminal Injuries Compensation Claims

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Ignorance of Law: A Philosophical Inquiry


ISBN13: 9780190604684
Published: September 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press USA
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: £55.00



In stock.

This book argues that ignorance of law should usually be a complete excuse from criminal liability. It defends this conclusion by invoking two presumptions: first, the content of criminal law should conform to morality; second, mistakes of fact and mistakes of law should be treated symmetrically.

The author grounds his position in an underlying theory of moral and criminal responsibility according to which blameworthiness consists in a defective response to the moral reasons one has. Since persons cannot be faulted for failing to respond to reasons for criminal liability they do not believe they have, then ignorance should almost always excuse. But persons are somewhat responsible for their wrongs when their mistakes of law are reckless, that is, when they consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their conduct might be wrong.

This book illustrates this with examples and critiques the arguments to the contrary offered by criminal theorists and moral philosophers. It assesses the real-world implications for the U.S. system of criminal justice. The author describes connections between the problem of ignorance of law and other topics in moral and legal theory.

Subjects:
Criminal Law, Jurisprudence
Contents:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE: METHODOLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS: HOW TO APPROACH A PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY INTO THE TOPIC OF IGNORANCE OF LAW
A. The Basic Question
B. Critical Morality and the Criminal Law
C. Intuitions and their Limitations

CHAPTER TWO: EXISTING LAW, SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY, AND WHAT TO LEARN FROM IT
A. Selected Cases and Commentary
B. Notice
C. Fact and Law
D. The Structure of Exculpatory Claims: Ignorance as a Denial of Mens rea

CHAPTER THREE: RESPONSIBILITY
A. The Capacity for Responsibility
B. Responsibility for Conduct
C. Culpable Ignorance and a Duty to Inquire

CHAPTER FOUR: REFINEMENTS, QUALIFICATIONS, COMPLEXITIES
A. Knowledge of Wrongdoing
B. Hard Cases and Possible Exceptions
C. The Doubly Problematic Case of Mala Prohibita
D. Negligent Mistakes of Law

CHAPTER FIVE: THE REAL WORLD
A. Implementation and Practical Realities
B. Consequences and Compromises

BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX