Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 241–245 | Cite as

Facts, Law, Exculpation, and Inculpation: Comments on Simons

  • Larry AlexanderEmail author
Original Paper


Orthodox criminal law doctrine treats mistakes of law and mistakes of fact differently for purposes of both exculpation and inculpation. Kenneth Simons’ paper in general defends this orthodoxy. I have earlier criticized the criminal law’s attempt to distinguish mistakes of law from mistakes of fact, and I continue to maintain, in opposition to Simons, that the distinction is problematic.


Orthodox criminal law doctrine Crime Punishment Exculpation Inculpation 


  1. Alexander, L. (1993). Inculpatory and exculpatory mistakes and the fact/law distinction: An essay in memory of Myke Bayles. Law and Philosophy, 12, 33. doi: 10.1007/BF01000795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, L. & Ferzan, K. (2009). (with contributions by Morse, S.). Crime and Culpability: A theory of criminal law. Google Scholar
  3. Kelsen, H. (1961). General theory of law and state (A. Wedberg, Trans.). New York: Russell & Russell.Google Scholar
  4. Simons, K. W. (2009). Mistake of fact or mistake of criminal law? Explaining and defending the distinction. Criminal Law and Philosophy, this issue. doi: 10.1007/s11572-009-9071-z (Page references in the footnotes are to the online manuscript version of this article).
  5. Westen, P. K. (2008). Impossibility attempts: A speculative thesis. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 5, 523–565.Google Scholar


  1. Idaho v. Fox, [Idaho 1993] 866 P. 2d 181.Google Scholar
  2. People v. Ryan, [NY 1993) 626 N.E. 2d 51.Google Scholar
  3. Regina v. Smith (David), [1974] 2 Q. B. 354.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of San Diego School of LawSan DiegoUSA

Personalised recommendations