Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 327–339 | Cite as

Recklessness, Willful Ignorance, and Exculpation

  • Michael J. Zimmerman
Original Paper


In Ignorance of Law, Douglas Husak’s main thesis is that ignorance of the law typically provides an excuse for breaking the law, but in the case of recklessness he claims that the excuse it provides is only a partial one, and in the case of willful ignorance he claims that it provides no excuse at all. In this paper I argue that, given the general principle to which Husak appeals in order to support his main thesis, he should revise his position on the exculpatory significance of both recklessness and willful ignorance.


Desert Excuse Ignorance of fact Ignorance of law Moral ignorance Negligence Punishment Recklessness Willful ignorance 



Thanks to Doug Husak for checking an earlier draft for possible misrepresentations of his view and, more broadly, for writing such a stimulating book.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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