Chapter

Willful Ignorance, Knowledge, and the ‘Equal Culpability’ Thesis: A Study of the Deeper Significance of the Principle of Legality

Douglas Husak

in The Philosophy of Criminal Law

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585038
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723476 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585038.003.0009
 							Willful Ignorance, Knowledge, and the ‘Equal Culpability’ Thesis: A Study of the Deeper Significance of the Principle of Legality

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This chapter examines the significance of the principle of legality in the context of the phenomenon of willful ignorance (or blindness). It begins by describing the culpable state of willful ignorance. It contends that some (but not all) willfully ignorant defendants are liable despite their failure to satisfy the mens rea requirement of the statutes for which they are convicted. After considering whether the culpability of such defendants is equal to that of persons who act knowingly, the chapter discusses the limitations of proposed statutory solutions to the problem of willful ignorance. It concludes by defending an approach to this problem that the author contends is preferable to alternatives.

Keywords: legality; drugs; knowledge; recklessness; sentencing

Chapter.  19927 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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