Direct Brain Interventions and Responsibility Enhancement
- 1.3k Downloads
Advances in neuroscience might make it possible to develop techniques for directly altering offenders’ brains, in order to make offenders more responsible and law-abiding. The idea of using such techniques within the criminal justice system can seem intuitively troubling, even if they were more effective in preventing crime than traditional methods of rehabilitation. One standard argument against this use of brain interventions is that it would undermine the individual’s free will. This paper maintains that ‘free will’ (at least, as that notion is understood by those who adopt the influential compatibilist approach) is an inadequate basis for explaining what is problematic about some direct brain interventions. This paper then defends an alternative way of objecting to certain kinds of direct brain interventions, focusing on the relationship between the offender and the state rather than the notion of free will. It opposes the use of interventions which aim to enhance ‘virtue responsibility’ (by instilling particular values about what is right and wrong), arguing that this would objectify offenders. In contrast, it argues that it may be acceptable to use direct brain interventions to enhance ‘capacity responsibility’ (i.e. to strengthen the abilities necessary for the exercise of responsible agency, such as self-control). Finally it considers how to distinguish these different kinds of responsibility enhancement.
KeywordsResponsibility Moral enhancement Free will Neurolaw Rehabilitation Dialogue Objectification Neuroenhancement
My research was funded by the Clark Foundation for Legal Education and by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am grateful to Antony Duff, Gerben Meynen, James Chalmers and Nicole Vincent for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
- Blair, J., Mitchell, D., & Blair, K. (2008). The psychopath emotion and the brain. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Bourget, D., & Chalmers, D. (Eds.) (2009). The philpapers survey. http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl Accessed 31st May 2011.
- Dennett, D. (1984). Elbow room: The varieties of free will worth wanting. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Dennett, D. (2011). “My brain made me do it”. (When neuroscientists think they can do philosophy). European University Institute: Max Weber Lecture Series, no. 2011/1, 1–14.Google Scholar
- Duff, R. A. (1986). Trials and punishments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Duff, R. A. (2001). Punishment, communication and community. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fara, M. (2008). Masked abilities and compatibilism. Mind, 117(468), 843–865.Google Scholar
- Feinberg, J. (1989). The moral limits of the criminal law, Volume 3: Harm to self. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hodges, A. (2012). Alan Turing: The enigma. (The Centenary Edition). London: Random House.Google Scholar
- Kant, I. (1948). The moral law: Groundwork of the metaphysic of morals (trans: Paton H.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Justice (2010). Compendium of re-offending statistics and analysis. http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/compendium-of-reoffending-statistics-and-analysis.pdf [last accessed 2/08/11].
- Pereboom, D. (2006). Reasons-responsiveness, alternative possibililities, and manipulation arguments against compatibilism: Reflections on John Martin Fischer’s my way. Philosophical Books, 47, 198–212.Google Scholar
- Shaw, E. (2011a). Free will, punishment and neurotechnologies. In L. Klaming & B. Van den Berg (Eds.), Technologies on the stand: Legal and ethical questions in neuroscience and robotics (pp. 41–65). Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.Google Scholar
- Shaw, E. (2011b). Cognitive enhancement and criminal behaviour. In E. Hildt & K. Liebe (Eds.), Neuroenhancement. University of Mainz, forthcoming.Google Scholar
- Vincent, N. (2011). Capacitarianism, responsibility and restored mental capacities. In L. Klaming & B. Van den Berg (Eds.), Technologies on the stand: Legal and ethical questions in neuroscience and robotics (pp. 41–65). Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.Google Scholar
- West, R. (1984). The fountain overflows. London: Virago Press.Google Scholar