Causation in the Criminal Law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter notes that the law has a bafflingly large number of legal tests for causation. There is no universally accepted theory in the general part of the law of crimes. There are thousands of separate usages of "cause" in the thousands of liability rules of criminal law; and there are nine variations of cause-in-fact tests, seven varieties of proximate cause tests, and three proposals supposing that a unified test should supplant any of the sixty-three possible combinations of the bifurcated tests. Despite disagreement about the proper test of causation to be given to juries, such juries often seem unperplexed at making findings of causation in particular cases. This may be because causation may be known better by common intuition in particular instances than by the abstract tests legal theorists have devised to "guide" such intuitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199897506
ISBN (Print)9780195314854
StatePublished - Sep 2 2011


  • Bifurcated tests
  • Causation
  • Cause in fact
  • Criminal law
  • Legal test
  • Liability rules
  • Proximate cause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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