Translating Scientific Evidence into the Language of the ‘Folk’: Executive Function as Capacity-Responsibility
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Nicole A. Vincent (ed.), Legal Responsibility and Neuroscience. Oxford University Press (2013)
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 responsibility. In contrast, scientific evidence of neurological processes and function – such as evidence that the defendant has a large brain tumor – will not generally lead a judge or jury to directly infer anything that is relevant to the legal determination of criminal culpability . (Vincent 2008) In these cases, an expert witness will be required to indicate to the fact-finder what this evidence means with regard to mental capacity; and then another inference will have to be made from this possible lack of capacity to the legal criteria for guilt, cast in CSP terms.<br><br>To reliably link evidence of brain function and structure and assessment of criminal responsibility, we need to re-conceptualize the mental capacities necessary for responsibility, particularly those that are recognized as missing or compromised by the doctrines of “legal capacity” (Hart 1968) and “diminished capacity.” I argue that formulating these capacities as executive functions within the brain can provide this link. I further claim that it would be extremely useful to consider evidence of executive function as related to the diminished capacity doctrine at sentencing. This is because it is primarily at this stage in criminal proceedings where the use of the diminished capacity doctrine is most prevalent, as evidenced by the recent Supreme Court cases of Atkins v. Virginia (536 U.S. 304 (2002)) and Roper v. Simmons (543 U.S. 551 (2005)).<br>.
|Keywords||responsibility neuroscience diminished capacity folk psychology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Nicole A. Vincent (forthcoming). A Compatibilist Theory of Legal Responsibility. Criminal Law and Philosophy:1-22.
Similar books and articles
René Foqué (2008). Criminal Justice in a Democracy: Towards a Relational Conception of Criminal Law and Punishment. [REVIEW] Criminal Law and Philosophy 2 (3):207-227.
Nicole A. Vincent (2009). Responsibility: Distinguishing Virtue From Capacity. Polish Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):111-26.
Paul Litton, Responsibility Status of the Psychopath: On Moral Reasoning and Rational Self-Governance.
Nicola Lacey (2007). Space, Time and Function: Intersecting Principles of Responsibility Across the Terrain of Criminal Justice. [REVIEW] Criminal Law and Philosophy 1 (3):233-250.
Nuno Ferreira, Putting the Age of Criminal and Civil Liability Into Context: A Dialogue Between Law with Psychology.
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong Adina Roskies Teneille Brown Emily Murphy (2008). Brain Images as Legal Evidence. Episteme 5 (3):pp. 359-373.
Dennis Garlick & Terrence J. Sejnowski (2006). There is More to Fluid Intelligence Than Working Memory Capacity and Executive Function. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (2):134-135.
Nicole A. Vincent (2010). On the Relevance of Neuroscience to Criminal Responsibility. Criminal Law and Philosophy 4 (1):77-98.
Tim Thornton (2011). Capacity, Mental Mechanisms, and Unwise Decisions. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 18 (2):127-132.
Peter Lucas (2011). Decision-Making Capacity and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 18 (2):117-122.
Added to index2010-03-23
Total downloads82 ( #19,253 of 1,410,189 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #35,366 of 1,410,189 )
How can I increase my downloads?