On What’s Intentionally Done


in Action and Value in Criminal Law

Published in print December 1993 | ISBN: 9780198258063
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681783 | DOI:
On What’s Intentionally Done

Show Summary Details


This chapter raises the question of how far some recent philosophy of action assists in explicating the moral psychological notions that are of concern in jurisprudence. The focus of the overall argument is on a distinction used by Antony Duff in his Intention, Agency and Criminal Liability — a distinction, Duff says, between ‘a broader and a narrower conception of intention’. It is doubtful that the distinction can do the work that Duff wants it to. Duff rests as much upon it as he does only because of a certain optimism: he hopes that conceptual analysis of intention may reveal what many of the interesting questions about mens rea really turn on, and so deliver the goods for the criminal lawyer. But this hope is vain. The chapter begins with some basic philosophy of action. A presentation of an account of actions which highlights some essential conceptual connections, and which introduces the concept of attempt into the framework, can provide a setting for a clear view of Duff's distinction. Exposition of this material takes up the first part of the chapter. This is brought into relation with issues in criminal liability in the second part, where its connection with the notions of actus reus and mens rea is shown. The third part explains and argues for the view taken of Duff's distinction, which differs from his. The remainder of the chapter considers how far an understanding of the concept of intention can take the criminal lawyer.

Keywords: philosophy of action; jurisprudence; Antony Duff; intention; criminal liability; actus reus; mens rea

Chapter.  11306 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.