Double Effect and the Criminal Law
Criminal Law and Philosophy, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2015 Last revised: 9 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 8, 2015
American criminal law is committed to some version of the doctrine of double effect (“DDE”). In this paper, I defend a new variant of the agent-centered rationale for a version of DDE that is of particular relevance to the criminal law. In particular, I argue for a non-absolute version of DDE that concerns the relative culpability of intending a bad or wrongful state of affairs as opposed to bringing it about merely knowingly. My aim is to identify a particular feature of the former in virtue of which it is pro tanto more culpable than the latter. Providing an agent-centered argument of this kind for a culpability version of DDE, I argue, is an especially attractive route to take for those who are interested in vindicating the way the criminal law actually encodes DDE.
Keywords: Doctrine of Double Effect, Intention, Purpose, Knowledge, Foresight, Mens Rea, Culpability, Criminal Law, Treason
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