Comments on Doug Husak: The Low Cost of Recognizing (and of Ignoring) the Limited Relevance of Intentions to Permissibility
Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 3, pp. 71-78, 2009
8 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 30, 2008
Doug Husak frames a worry that makes sense in the abstract, but in reality, there is not much to worry about. The thesis that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility (IIP) is a straw man. There are reasons to think that the moral significance of intentions is not properly registered in criminal law. But the moral basis for criticism is not nearly as extreme as the IIP, and the fixes are not that hard to make. Lastly, if they are not made, some people may not get the punishments they deserve, and there will be some extra inequities in the criminal law as a result. But these inequities are not so great that change must be made now. The moral categories that are used may be too crude, but they are also familiar and easy to work with, and that counts for something.
Keywords: intention, permissibility, doctrine of double effect (DDE), criminal law, moral philosophy, mens rea, culpability
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