Cognition 169:139-146 (2017)

Authors
Markus Kneer
University of Zürich
Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde
Institut Jean Nicod
Abstract
A coherent practice of mens rea (‘guilty mind’) ascription in criminal law presupposes a concept of mens rea which is insensitive to the moral valence of an action’s outcome. For instance, an assessment of whether an agent harmed another person intentionally should be unaffected by the severity of harm done. Ascriptions of intentionality made by laypeople, however, are subject to a strong outcome bias. As demonstrated by the Knobe effect, a knowingly incurred negative side effect is standardly judged intentional, whereas a positive side effect is not. We report the first empirical investigation into intentionality ascriptions made by professional judges, which finds (i) that professionals are sensitive to the moral valence of outcome type, and (ii) that the worse the outcome, the higher the propensity to ascribe intentionality. The data shows the intentionality ascriptions of professional judges to be inconsistent with the concept of mens rea supposedly at the foundation of criminal law.
Keywords Mens rea  expertise  criminal law  mental states  theory of mind  intentionality  outcome effect  Knobe effect  severity bias
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DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.08.008
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References found in this work BETA

Cause and Norm.Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.

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Citations of this work BETA

No Luck for Moral Luck.Markus Kneer & Edouard Machery - 2019 - Cognition 182:331-348.
Perspective and Epistemic State Ascriptions.Markus Kneer - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):313-341.

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