The Guilty Mind

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (1):41 - 63 (2009)
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Abstract

The doctrine of mens rea can be expressed in this way: MRP: If A is culpable for performing phi, then A performs phi intentionally in circumstances in which it is impermissible to perform phi. The Sermon on the Mount suggests the following principle: SMP: If A intends to perform phi in circumstances in which it would be impermissible for A to perform phi, then A’s intending to perform phi makes A as culpable as A would be were A to perform phi. MRP and SMP are principles representative of intentionalism, a family of views that emphasizes the importance of intention to judgments about culpability. This essay examines an intentionalist’s defense of MRP with respect to lying, strict criminal liability, and the distinction between intention and foreseeability, along with a defense of SMP with respect to failed attempts, and self-defense

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