Guilty Minds and Biased Minds

  • Date: Jan 21, 2019
  • Time: 16:00
  • Speaker: Markus Kneer
  • University of Zurich (UZH)
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Basement

According to Coke's principle, the actus reus (the "guilty act") and the mens rea (the "guilty state of mind") must be treated as conceptually distinct by the law. This entails that ascriptions of inculpating states of mind should not be sensitive to certain features of the actus reus, such as the moral valence or severity of the action's outcome. I will present data demonstrating that lay ascriptions of intentionality, knowledge and recklessness are susceptible to an outcome bias, which might put pressure on the juror system common in Anglophone countries. Experts, however do little better: Intentionality attributions of professional French judges manifest both the Knobe effect and the severity bias. If time allows, I'll extend the discussion to recent findings regarding moral - and correspondingly legal - luck.


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