Law and Philosophy

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 1-40

First online:

Intending to Aid

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Courts and commentators are notoriously puzzled about the mens rea standards for complicity. Accomplices intend to aid, but what attitude need they have towards the crimes that they aid? This paper both criticizes extant accounts of the mens rea of complicity and offers a new account. The paper argues that an intention can commit one to an event’s occurrence without committing one to promoting the event, or making it more likely to take place. Under the proposed account of the mens rea of complicity, an accomplice must have an intention that commits him to the crime’s occurrence, but need not commit him to making it more likely that the crime occurs. The paper traces the implications of this view both for several difficult complicity cases, and for ongoing debates among philosophers of action about the necessary and sufficient conditions of joint agency.