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Equal Culpability and the Scope of the Willful Ignorance Doctrine

Sarch, Alexander (2017) Equal Culpability and the Scope of the Willful Ignorance Doctrine Legal Theory, 22. pp. 276-311.

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Abstract

Courts commonly allow willful ignorance to satisfy the knowledge element of a crime. The traditional rationale for this doctrine is that willfully ignorant misconduct is just as culpable as knowing misconduct. But it is not obvious that this “equal culpability thesis” holds across the board. Is it true in all cases of willful ignorance or only some? This is the question I investigate here. Specifically, I argue against several common versions of the equal culpability thesis before defending my own restricted version. First, I argue that the broadest version of the thesis, adopted by many courts, is overinclusive. Then I argue against several restricted versions of the thesis offered by legal theorists including Doug Husak, David Luban, and Deborah Hellman. My own account, by contrast, is premised on a duty of reasonable investigation. If my account is on the right track, the widely employed willful ignorance doctrine stands in need of reform.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Law
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Sarch, Alexandera.sarch@surrey.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Date : 30 May 2017
Identification Number : 10.1017/S1352325217000088
Copyright Disclaimer : © Cambridge University Press 2017. This article has been published in a revised form in Legal Theory: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1352325217000088. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works.
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 31 Mar 2017 16:12
Last Modified : 15 Nov 2017 14:02
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/813912

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