Criminalising Carelessness? – Com­par­a­tive and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Criminal Liability for Inadvertent Negligence


  • Start: Aug 29, 2024
  • End: Aug 31, 2024
  • Location: Freiburg/Germany, Fürstenbergstr. 19, and online
  • Room: Seminar room (F 113)
  • Host: Max Planck Research Group “Criminal Law Theory”
  • Contact:
Criminalising Carelessness? – Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Criminal Liability for Inadvertent Negligence

Can we punish people for crimes they didn’t even know they com­mit­ted? Ultimately, the answer to this question lies at the core of criminal liability for inadvertent negligence. But legal systems respond very differently. Although most civil law jurisdictions seem to have no prob­lem with criminal liability for inadvertent negligence, its criminali­sa­tion is controversial in common law jurisdictions. And even though most Anglo-American criminal law theorists firmly hold onto the principle of actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea, criminal liability for negligence, and even strict liability, is becoming inexorably wide­spread in statutory law. Surprisingly, despite the subject having been long discussed in Anglo-American and German criminal law scholar­ship, there has been scant exchange between them, and the two legal systems have benefited too little from each other’s insights.
From 29–31 August 2024, we would like to address this issue and the different perspectives on criminal liability for inad­vert­ent negligence in a workshop organized by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Frei­burg. Cutting through the fields of philosophy, psychology, and criminal law theory, the workshop will address the theoretical, doctrinal, and practical issues of inadvertent negligence. A special emphasis will be placed on the ques­tion of what we are accusing the offender of: What is criminally wrong about being careless, and is this criminal charge tenable from a legal and even from a philosophical and psychological point of view? By bringing together scholars from different civil and common law jurisdictions, the workshop will provide a platform for a lively international and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary debate on these questions and seeks to provide new answers to an old problem.

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