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Ignorance of Law – A Philosophical Inquiry | Oxford Scholarship Online
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Ignorance of Law: A Philosophical Inquiry

Douglas Husak


This book argues for the thesis that ignorance of law should usually be a complete excuse from criminal liability. This conclusion is defended by invoking two presumptions: first, the content of the criminal law should conform to morality; second, mistakes of fact and mistakes of law should be treated symmetrically. The author grounds his position in an underlying theory of moral and criminal responsibility according to which blameworthiness consists in a defective response to one’s moral reasons. As rational persons cannot be faulted for failing to respond to reasons they do not believe they ... More

Keywords: ignorance, excuse, punishment, responsibility, recklessness, risk

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780190604684
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190604684.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Douglas Husak, author
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy