Thursday, September 10, 2009

Neurolaw: The most sophisticated method of punishment ever?

At Medical Humanities blog, Daniel Goldberg offers resources for critiquing "neurolaw" (= you didn't do it, your ailing brain did. But then "you" don't exist anyway. That's just a harmful illusion.):
At the UCL Law & Neuroscience Colloquium, I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Pardo, a law professor at the University of Alabama who apparently shares some of my skepticism at the reductionist tendency to equate brain with mind. Pardo, along with one of preeminent American philosophers of law, Dennis Patterson, recently wrote an excellent rebuke to neuroreductionism that addresses and critiques many of the foundations of the conventional approaches to law & neuroscience. We covered the article at MH Blog here, and you can find further discussion of it here, at Adam Kolber's fine Neuroethics & Law Blog.
'Bout time someone did. This is probably the most sophisticated approach to punishment/capital punishment in all human history. Persuade the person that his mind is only an illusion, and that he has no control over what he does. He is "sick." Not wrong, not badly behaved, not mistaken, just plain "sick," like he had the flu or something.

No use raging against the machine; he is only a cog in the machine, and a badly functioning one at that.

He can be "cured" (maybe), but cannot decide to reform or make his peace with the world. He must be "fixed."

I am glad that most current prisoners are poorly educated. They will be unlikely to believe neuroreductionism.

You must be educated way beyond your intelligence to believe this stuff.

See also:

Neurolaw: Stephanie West Allen on its potential dangers

Neurolaw: Your brain is your best defense ... literally