Unity in Complex Action Description and in the <i>Actus Reus</i> Requirement

Michael S. Moore

in Act and Crime

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599509
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594656 | DOI:
Unity in Complex Action Description and in the Actus Reus Requirement

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In ordinary speech and in criminal codes the descriptions of types of action are seemingly quite diverse, as are the possible taxonomical schemes for classifying them. Yet Anglo-American criminal law reduces all possible modes of complexity to two dimensions: act types are either causally complex or circumstantially complex, or both. Reasons are given to honour this reduction. How to draw the distinction between circumstances and results is also examined in light of the law's purposes for distinguishing these two species of complexity. Focus is then directed to causal complexity. The ‘equivalence thesis’ is advanced, a thesis holding that all action descriptions used in the criminal law (like ‘A hit B’) are equivalent to explicitly causal descriptions (such as ‘A caused contact on B’).

Keywords: actus reus; consequences; results; circumstances; conduct crimes; complex acts; causative verbs

Chapter.  21043 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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