Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 127–141 | Cite as

Complicity and causality

  • John GardnerEmail author
Original paper


This paper considers some aspects of the morality of complicity, understood as participation in the wrongs of another. The central question is whether there is some way of participating in the wrongs of another other than by making a causal contribution to them. I suggest that there is not. In defending this view I encounter, and resist, the claim that it undermines the distinction between principals and accomplices. I argue that this distinction is embedded in the structure of rational agency.


Wrongdoing  Responsibility  Causation Complicity Justification 



This paper is a descendent of my Kadish Lecture, delivered at the University of California, Berkeley on 7 April 2004. My commentators on that occasion were Scott Shapiro and Jonathan Simon. I also profited from the remarks of Michael Bratman, Sam Scheffler, Jay Wallace, and Sandy Kadish. Substantially revised versions of the paper were presented at a workshop on Complicity in Oxford on 4 June 2005 (where I debated the topic with Christopher Kutz) and at a British Academy symposium on 22 October 2005 (where my commentators were Lindsay Farmer and Tatjana Hörnle). Antony Duff, Frances Kamm, and Doug Husak also made helpful remarks on the revised versions. I am grateful to all these people for exposing, between them, numerous failings. None of them is complicit in whatever errors remain.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Oxford, University CollegeOxfordUK

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