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June 23, 1993

Scientific Misconduct-Reply

Author Affiliations

Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio

JAMA. 1993;269(24):3105-3106. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500240049016

In Reply.  —Dr Levin's comments give me an opportunity to elaborate on how the legal system defines criminal offenses. Assessment of mental state is crucial to the determination of whether a defendant has committed a crime and, if so, which one. Homicide, for example, is divided into offense categories based on the mental state that accompanies the act of causing death. Thus, different defendants engaging in similarly lethal behavior may be guilty of murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, or no offense at all, depending on their states of mind at the time of the behavior. The relevant culpable mental state, or intent, is a necessary element of each of these crimes and of many other offenses, such as burglary, kidnapping, arson, and so forth.In my view, definitions of scientific misconduct should also specify the mental states that must accompany the prohibited behaviors. For example, I question whether many people would