•  4
    How Is Criminal Punishment Forward-Looking?
    The Monist 104 (4): 540-553. 2021.
    Forward-looking aims tend to play a much less significant role than retribution in justifying criminal punishment, especially in common law systems. In this paper I attempt to reinvigorate the idea that there are important forward-looking justifications for criminal law and punishment by looking to social theories of responsibility. I argue that the criminal law may be justified at the institutional level because it is a part of larger responsibility practices that have the effect of bolstering …Read more
  •  3
    How is criminal punishment forward-looking?
    The Monist 4 (104): 540-553. 2021.
    Forward-looking aims tend to play a much less significant role than retribution in justifying criminal punishment, especially in common law systems. In this paper I attempt to reinvigorate the idea that there are important forward-looking justifications for criminal law and punishment by looking to social theories of responsibility. I argue that the criminal law may be justified at the institutional level because it is a part of larger responsibility practices that have the effect of bolstering …Read more
  •  23
    Empirical research has distinguished moral judgments that focus on an act and the actor’s intention or mental states, and those that focus on results of an action and then seek a causal actor. Studies indicate these two types of judgments may result from a “dual-process system” of moral judgment (Cushman 2008, Kneer and Machery 2019). Results-oriented judgements may be subject to the problem of resultant moral luck because different results can arise from the same action and intention. While som…Read more
  •  43
    Author’s Reply: Negligence and Normative Import
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 22 (August): 1-19. 2022.
    In this paper we attempt to reply to the thoughtful comments made on our book, Responsible Brains, by a stellar group of scholars. Our reply focuses on two topics discussed in the commenting papers: frst, the issue of responsibility for negligent behavior; and second, the broad claim that facts about brain function are normatively inert. In response to worries that our theory lacks normative implications, we will concentrate on an area where our theory has clear relevance to law and legal policy…Read more
  •  45
    Philosophy Labs
    Teaching Philosophy 44 (2): 187-206. 2021.
    Conversation is a foundational aspect of philosophical pedagogy. Too often, however, philosophical research becomes disconnected from this dialogue, and is instead conducted as a solitary endeavor. We aim to bridge the disconnect between philosophical pedagogy and research by proposing a novel framework. Philosophy labs, we propose, can function as both a pedagogical tool and a model for conducting group research. Our review of collaborative learning literature suggests that philosophy labs, lik…Read more
  • This chapter argues that a successful plea of legal insanity ought to rest upon proof that a criminal act is causally related to symptoms of a mental disorder. Diagnosis of a mental disorder can signal to the court that the defendant had very little control over relevant moral ignorance or incompetence. Must we draw the same conclusion for defendants who lack moral knowledge due to miseducation or other extreme environmental conditions, unrelated to a mental disorder? Adults who were brainwashed…Read more
  •  201
    Chemical Castration as Punishment
    In Thomas Nadelhoffer & Nicole A. Vincent (eds.), Neuro-Interventions and the Law, . 2020.
    This chapter explores whether chemical castration can be justified as a form of criminal punishment. The author argues that castration via the drug medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), or some similar drug, does not achieve the punishment aims of retribution, deterrence, or incapacitation, but might serve as punishment in the form of rehabilitative treatment. However, current U.S. chemical castration statutes are too broad to be justified as rehabilitative. The state is warranted in targeting psyc…Read more
  • Neuroethics
    In Benjamin D. Young & Carolyn Dicey Jennings (eds.), Mind, Cognition, and Neuroscience: A Philosophical Introduction. forthcoming.
    Neuroethics is the body of work exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of neuroscience. This work can be separated into two rough categories. The “neuroscience of ethics” concerns a neuroscientific understanding of the brain processes that underpin moral judgment and behavior. The “ethics of neuroscience” refers to the potential impact advances in neuroscience may have on the ethical principles that should guide brain research, treatment of brain disease, and cognitive enhancement…Read more
  •  23
    Pretrial Detention and Moral Agency
    with Tyler K. Fagan
    In David Boonin (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy, Springer Verlag. pp. 11-23. 2018.
    In this chapter we explore the ethical justifications for criminal detentions prior to adjudication. Because defending pretrial detentions cannot be justified on purely forward-looking grounds, any plausible justification for pre-conviction detention must be partly backward-looking. Reflecting on the aims of the criminal law more broadly suggests that pretrial detentions, like post-conviction detentions, may be justified on “hybrid” grounds—but only if certain backward-looking retributive criter…Read more
  •  73
    Are Psychopaths Legally Insane?
    European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 14 (1): 79-96. 2018.
    The question of whether psychopaths are criminally and morally responsible has generated significant controversy in the literature. In this paper, we discuss what relevance a psychopathy diagnosis has for criminal responsibility. It has been argued that figuring out whether psychopathy is a mental illness is of fundamental importance, because it is a precondition for psychopaths’ eligibility to be excused via the legal insanity defense. But even if psychopathy counts as a mental illness, this al…Read more
  •  678
    [This download includes the table of contents and chapter 1.] When we praise, blame, punish, or reward people for their actions, we are holding them responsible for what they have done. Common sense tells us that what makes human beings responsible has to do with their minds and, in particular, the relationship between their minds and their actions. Yet the empirical connection is not necessarily obvious. The “guilty mind” is a core concept of criminal law, but if a defendant on trial for murder…Read more
  •  156
    This chapter will argue that the criminal law is most compatible with a specific theory regarding the mind/body relationship: non-eliminative reductionism. Criminal responsibility rests upon mental causation: a defendant is found criminally responsible for an act where she possesses certain culpable mental states (mens rea under the law) that are causally related to criminal harm. If we assume the widely accepted position of ontological physicalism, which holds that only one sort of thing exists…Read more
  •  975
    This chapter examines how advances in nanotechnology might impact criminal sentencing. While many scholars have considered the ethical implications of emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, few have considered their potential impact on crucial institutions such as our criminal justice system. Specifically, I will discuss the implications of two types of technological advances for criminal sentencing: advanced tracking devices enabled by nanotechnology, and nano-neuroscience, including ne…Read more
  •  544
    Neuroethics
    In Vilayanur Ramachandran (ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 3e, Elsevier. 2016.
    Neuroethics is the body of work exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of neuroscience. This work can be separated into two rough categories. The neuroscience of ethics concerns a neuroscientific understanding of the brain processes that underpin moral judgment and behavior. The ethics of neuroscience, on the other hand, includes the potential impact advances in neuroscience may have on social, moral and philosophical ideas and institutions, as well as the ethical principles that …Read more
  •  85
    The criminal law depends upon 'commonsense' or 'folk' psychology, a seemingly innate theory used by all normal human beings as a means to understand and predict other humans' behavior. This paper discusses two major types of arguments that commonsense psychology is not a true theory of human behavior, and thus should be eliminated and replaced. The paper argues that eliminitivist projects fail to provide evidence that commonsense psychology is a false theory, and argues that there is no need to …Read more
  •  121
    There are legitimate worries about gaps between scientific evidence of brain states and function (for example, as evidenced by fMRI data) and legal criteria for determining criminal culpability. In this paper I argue that behavioral evidence of capacity, motive and intent appears easier for judges and juries to use for purposes of determining criminal liability because such evidence triggers the application of commonsense psychological (CSP) concepts that guide and structure criminal responsibil…Read more
  •  145
    Grounding responsibility in something (more) solid
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41. 2018.
    The cases that Doris chronicles of confabulation are similar to perceptual illusions in that, while they show the interstices of our perceptual or cognitive system, they fail to establish that our everyday perception or cognition is not for the most part correct. Doris's account in general lacks the resources to make synchronic assessments of responsibility, partially because it fails to make use of knowledge now available to us about what is happening in the brains of agents.
  •  18
    Stephen Morse seems to have adopted a controversial position regarding the mindbody relationship: John Searle’s non-reductivism, which claims that conscious mental states are causal yet not reducible to their underlying brain states. Searle’s position has been roundly criticized, with some arguing the theory taken as a whole is incoherent. In this paper I review these criticisms and add my own, concluding that Searle’s position is indeed contradictory, both internally and with regard to Morse's …Read more
  •  326
    The Legal Self: Executive processes and legal theory
    Consciousness and Cognition 20 (1): 151-176. 2011.
    When laws or legal principles mention mental states such as intentions to form a contract, knowledge of risk, or purposely causing a death, what parts of the brain are they speaking about? We argue here that these principles are tacitly directed at our prefrontal executive processes. Our current best theories of consciousness portray it as a workspace in which executive processes operate, but what is important to the law is what is done with the workspace content rather than the content itself. …Read more
  •  13
    Ignorance of law: A philosophical inquiry (review)
    Jurisprudence 9 (1): 186-191. 2018.
    Douglas Husak’s book is an intelligent, wide-ranging exploration of the legal principle ‘ignorance of law is no excuse’. This principle is one of the few pieces of legal doctrine known by many regular folks, along with the criminal standard of proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. The traditional approach to the doctrine might be explained in this way: in some cases, ignorance of the law fails to excuse offenders from culpability because as a matter of policy we feel they ought to have known the l…Read more
  •  7
    In this chapter we will argue that the capacities necessary to moral and legal agency can be understood as executive functions in the brain. Executive functions underwrite both the cognitive and volitional capacities that give agents a fair opportunity to avoid wrongdoing: to recognize their acts as immoral and/or illegal, and to act or refrain from acting based upon this recognition. When a person’s mental illness is serious enough to cause severe disruption of executive functions, she is very …Read more
  •  592
    Virtue Ethics and Criminal Punishment
    In Jon Webber & Alberto Masala (eds.), From Personality to Virtue, Oxford University Press. 2016.
    In this chapter I use virtue theory to critique certain contemporary punishment practices. From the perspective of virtue theory, respect for rational agency indicates a respect for choice-making as the process by which we form dispositions which in turn give rise to further choices and action. To be a moral agent one must be able to act such that his or her actions deserve praise or blame; virtue theory thus demands that moral agents engage in rational choice-making as a means to develop and ex…Read more
  •  732
    Child Soldiers, Executive Functions, and Culpability
    International Criminal Law Review 16 (2): 258-286. 2016.
    Child soldiers, who often appear to be both victims and perpetrators, present a vexing moral and legal challenge: how can we protect the rights of children while seeking justice for the victims of war crimes? There has been little stomach, either in domestic or international courts, for prosecuting child soldiers—but neither has this challenge been systematically addressed in international law. Establishing a uniform minimum age of criminal responsibility would be a major step in the right direc…Read more
  •  123
    This article examines the domestic use of drones by law enforcement to gather information. Although the use of drones for surveillance will undoubtedly provide law enforcement agencies with new means of gathering intelligence, these unmanned aircrafts bring with them a host of legal and epistemic complications. Part I considers the Fourth Amendment and the different legal standards of proof that might apply to law enforcement drone use. Part II explores philosopher Wittgenstein’s notion of actio…Read more
  •  406
    The psychological literature now differentiates between two types of psychopath:successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record). Recent research indicates that earlier findings of reduced autonomic activity, reduced prefrontal grey matter, and compromised executive activity may only be true of unsuccessful psychopaths. In contrast, successful psychopaths actually show autonomic and executive function that exceeds that of normals, while having no differenc…Read more
  •  265
    Making sense of modern Darwinism
    Heredity 90 418. 2003.
    Despite the high profile of evolutionary explanations of human behaviour, their status remains highly disputed. Are all evolutionary explanations of human behaviour sensational 'just so' stories, or is there a proper science of sociobiology? Sense and Nonsense provides an answer to this question by assessing the legitimacy of a range of evolutionary approaches to human behaviour.
  •  863
    The emerging neuroscience of psychopathy will have several important implications for our attempts to construct an ethical society. In this article we begin by describing the list of criteria by which psychopaths are diagnosed. We then review four competing neuropsychological theories of psychopathic cognition. The first of these models, Newman’s attentional model, locates the problem in a special type of attentional narrowing that psychopaths have shown in experiments. The second and third, Bla…Read more
  •  881
    In a recent book, Neil Levy argues that culpable action – action for which we are morally responsible – is necessarily produced by states of which we are consciously aware. However, criminal defendants are routinely held responsible for criminal harm caused by states of which they are not conscious in Levy’s sense. In this chapter I argue that cases of negligent criminal harm indicate that Levy’s claim that moral responsibility requires synchronic conscious awareness of the moral significance o…Read more