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Law and Ethics Program

The Law and Ethics Program is a collaboration between the Law School and U-M's Department of Philosophy. It aims to promote advanced research and teaching at the intersection of law and ethics. The program's main activities include:

  • An annual Law and Ethics Lecture

  • A law and philosophy reading group, for faculty and students in both departments

  • Support for students seeking joint degrees in law and philosophy

  • Workshops and conferences with leading legal theorists from around the world.


Scott Hershovitz (law and philosophy)

Elizabeth Anderson (philosophy)
Sarah Buss (philosophy)
Bruce Frier (law)
Allan Gibbard (philosophy)
Daniel Halberstam (law)
Don Herzog (law)
Daniel Jacobson (philosophy)
Ishani Maitra (philosophy)
Gabe Mendlow (law and philosophy)
Leonard Niehoff (law)
Richard Primus (law)
Peter Railton (philosophy)
Steve Ratner (law)
Don Regan (law)

Law and Ethics Lecture

"The Point of Mens Rea: The Case of Willful Ignorance"

Monday, Nov. 3, 2014

4:10-6 p.m.
Hutchins Hall Room 220
Reception immediately following the event

Gideon Yaffe​, Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Psychology; Yale University

Gideon Yaffe, Yale Law School"The Point of Mens Rea" offers a general account of why mental state matters to culpability for crime under which mental states serve as evidence for other, deeper, morally salient features that Profesor Yaffe describes. Professor Yaffe then shows that under certain condictions that he specifies, the decsion not to inquire about a fact, and to later act in ignorance of it, is reflective of the very same morally salient features as the decision to act in the face of knowledge of that fact. This then serves as a derivation from first principles of the standard legal rule about willful ignorance, according to which the willfully ignorant person is to be treated as though he were knowing.