Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Krupke, We've Got Troubles of Our Own

According to Classical Values, there's a renewed movement to base legal decisions on neurolaw:

Criminal law scholarship has recently become absorbed with the ideas of neuroscience in the emerging field of neurolaw. This mixture of cognitive neuroscience and law suggests that long established conceptions of human agency and responsibility are fundamentally at odds with the findings of science. Using sophisticated technology, cognitive neuroscience claims to be upon the threshold of unraveling the mysteries of the mind by elucidating the mechanical nature of the brain. Despite the limitations of that technology, neurolaw supporters eagerly suggest that those revelations entail that an inevitable and radical overhaul of our criminal justice system is soon at hand.
I think somebody should write a song about how, assuming human behavior is based on brain states instead of alleged reasons, appeals to experts can be gamed. After all, the expert advice is a type of human behavior and differing brains might produce differing advice.

Wait a moment… It's been done:

The trouble is he's crazy, the trouble is he drinks
The trouble is he's lazy, the trouble is he stinks
The trouble is he's growing, the trouble is he's grown
Krupke, we've got troubles of our own

Also see my earlier comments on neuroeconomics as well as Bryan Caplan's defense of free will.


Anonymous Stephen Dawson said...

There are two issues here. First is the issue of fact. The factual claim seems to be: behaviour is determined by things out of the individual's control (genes, early environment), therefore bad behaviour is determined, not chosen, therefore the individual cannot be held morally responsible for the bad behaviour.

The other issue is one of the policy response, should this come to be established fact. Many commenting on these issues seem to assume that if a person cannot be considered morally responsible, then punishment is not appropriate.

However, I suspect that society would, after flirting with related policies for a few years, or decades, eventually opt for an equally 'fact based' policy response: if the bad can't choose to be good, then we may as well just execute them.

5:15 AM  

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