Legal Responsibility and Philosoph of Mind (LAWS6827)


Many legal doctrines in both criminal and civil law depend upon being able to characterise conduct as intentional, leading to ascriptions of fault, blame or responsibility. Most serious criminal offences depend upon establishing mens rea as a relevant mental element. Civil liability is often dependent upon whether conduct was intended, or whether the cause of loss was brought about by either intentional conduct or conduct involving some lesser notion of fault. All of these doctrines make important assumptions about the nature of our mental states and the operation of mind. Many of these assumptions are philosophically controversial and current developments in the philosophy of mind may lead us to reconsider or radically revise our attitudes to the law. The unit will look at contemporary philosophical work on free will consciousness, mind, and causation and apply this work to present problems in regard to concepts of legal responsibility.

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Further unit of study information


1x2-hr lecture/week


class participation exercise (30%) and 6000wd essay (70%), or 7500wd essay (100%)


Lowe, EJ An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge U.P., Cambridge 2000

Faculty/department permission required?


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