Inevitable ignorance as a standard for excusability: an epistemological analysis

Ciuni, Roberto; Tuzet, Giovanni

In this paper, we discuss the notion of inevitable ignorance that the Italian Constitutional Court has introduced in justifying a restriction of the legal maxim Ignorantia legis non excusat. In particular, we argue that the epistemic flavor of the notion extends to the notion of inevitability beside that of ignorance, and we offer an epistemic analysis of the notion. This analysis is based both on the legal-theoretical framework defined by the justification of the restriction of the maxim, and on a discussion of some paradigmatic Italian cases where the standard of excusability involving inevitable ignorance is applied. The analysis reveals that the notion of inevitable ignorance is closely connected to a number of notions also used in formal epistemology, such as belief, evidence, rationality, and trust.