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Criminal Law TheoryDoctrines of the General Part$
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Stephen Shute and Andrew Simester

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243495

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243495.001.0001

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Knowledge, Belief, and Culpability

Knowledge, Belief, and Culpability

(p.207) 9 Knowledge, Belief, and Culpability
Criminal Law Theory


Oxford University Press

Knowledge and belief play an important role in determining the culpability of defendants. A criminal offence may explicitly require proof of knowledge or may be interpreted to require such proof. Additionally, knowledge may be paired explicitly with belief as alternative forms of culpability. When assessing culpability, one may disregard the empirical adequacy of an agent's true beliefs. This chapter examines the pressures upon and distortions of ordinary usage that arise when interpretations of ordinary language terms are the coinage of culpability findings. It looks at subsidiary issues such as the possibility of knowledge of the resolution of events as yet unresolved and the relevance for criminal liability of knowledge and beliefs concerning applicable normative standards. This chapter also discusses the epistemology of culpability, knowledge and the actus reus of criminal offences, knowledge in the form of wilful blindness, and knowledge of future events.

Keywords:   culpability, knowledge, belief, criminal liability, wilful blindness, criminal offences, epistemology, future events

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