It is a foundational, but underappreciated principle of criminal liability that being guilty of a crime requires not only possessing the requisite mens rea and actus reus, but also that this mens rea be appropriately connected to the actus reus. That is, the former must concur with or “actuate” the latter. While there has been substantial discussion of the connection requirement as applied to the mens rea of intent, the meaning of this requirement as applied to knowledge and recklessness has received far less attention. In this paper, I consider one of the few sophisticated attempts to spell out the connection requirement as applied to knowledge and recklessness—namely, the counterfactual approach offered by Ken Simons. However, I argue that this sort of approach faces problems. In its place, I defend a different kind of approach to the connection requirement— one that does not rely on counterfactual tests, but rather places normative questions front and center.


Criminal Law | Law | Law and Philosophy | Legal History

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