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Katrina L. Sifferd
Elmhurst College
  1. Responsible Brains: Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability.William Hirstein, Katrina L. Sifferd & Tyler K. Fagan - 2018 - New York, NY, USA: MIT Press.
    [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 (...)
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  2. On the Criminal Culpability of Successful and Unsucessful Psychopaths.Katrina L. Sifferd & William Hirstein - 2013 - Neuroethics 6 (1):129-140.
    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 difference in prefrontal volume from normals. We argue that many successful psychopaths are legally responsible for (...)
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  3. Translating Scientific Evidence Into the Language of the ‘Folk’: Executive Function as Capacity-Responsibility.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2013 - In Nicole A. Vincent (ed.), Legal Responsibility and Neuroscience. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  4. Non-Eliminative Reductionism: Not the Theory of Mind Some Responsibility Theorists Want, but the One They Need.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2018 - In Bebhinn Donnelly Lazarov (ed.), Neurolaw and Responsibility for Action: Concepts, Crimes, and Courts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 71-103.
    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 in the world – physical stuff – (...)
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  5.  83
    In Defense of the Use of Commonsense Psychology in the Criminal Law.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2006 - Law and Philosophy 25 (6):571 - 612.
    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 seek (...)
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  6.  38
    Author’s Reply: Negligence and Normative Import.Katrina L. Sifferd & Tyler K. Fagan - 2022 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 22 (August):1-19.
    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 (...)
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  7. Chemical Castration as Punishment.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2020 - In Thomas Nadelhoffer & Nicole A. Vincent (eds.), Neuro-Interventions and the Law.
    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 psychological states in criminal defendants for rehabilitative treatment where (...)
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  8.  21
    Do Rape Cases Sit in a Moral Blindspot?Katrina L. Sifferd - forthcoming - In Samuel Murray & Paul Henne (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Action. London, UK:
    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 some argue (...)
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  9.  2
    How is Criminal Punishment Forward-Looking?Katrina L. Sifferd - 2021 - The Monist 4 (104):540-553.
    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 our reasons-responsiveness by making us (...)
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    How Is Criminal Punishment Forward-Looking?Katrina L. Sifferd - 2021 - The Monist 104 (4):540-553.
    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 our reasons-responsiveness by making us (...)
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  11.  12
    Ignorance of Law: A Philosophical Inquiry. [REVIEW]Katrina L. Sifferd - 2018 - Jurisprudence 9 (1):186-191.
    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 (...)
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  12.  90
    Juvenile Self-Control and Legal Responsibility: Building a Scalar Standard.Katrina L. Sifferd, Tyler Fagan & William Hirstein - 2020 - In Alfred Mele (ed.), Surrounding Self-Control.
    US criminal courts have recently moved toward seeing juveniles as inherently less culpable than their adult counterparts, influenced by a growing mass of neuroscientific and psychological evidence. In support of this trend, this chapter argues that the criminal law’s notion of responsible agency requires both the cognitive capacity to understand one’s actions and the volitional control to conform one’s actions to legal standards. These capacities require, among other things, a minimal working set of executive functions—a suite of mental processes, mainly (...)
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  13. Legal Insanity and Moral Knowledge: Why is a Lack of Moral Knowledge Related to a Mental Illness Exculpatory?Katrina L. Sifferd - forthcoming - In Matt King & Joshua May (eds.), Agency, Responsibility, & Mental Disorder: Exploring the Connections.
    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 as (...)
     
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  14. Neuroethics.Katrina L. Sifferd & Joshua VanArsdall - forthcoming - In Benjamin D. Young & Carolyn Dicey Jennings (eds.), Mind, Cognition, and Neuroscience: A Philosophical Introduction.
    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. The Contemporary Issues section of this chapter will consist (...)
     
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  15.  23
    Pretrial Detention and Moral Agency.Katrina L. Sifferd & Tyler K. Fagan - 2018 - In David Boonin (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag. pp. 11-23.
    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 criteria and forward-looking instrumental criteria are met. We conclude that while it is possible in principle to justify (...)
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  16. What Does It Mean to Be a Mechanism? Stephen Morse, Non-Reductivism, and Mental Causation.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2014 - Criminal Law and Philosophy:1-17.
    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 other views. Thus I argue that Morse (...)
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    What Does It Mean to Be a Mechanism? Stephen Morse, Non-Reductivism, and Mental Causation.Katrina L. Sifferd - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (1):143-159.
    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 other views. Thus I argue that Morse (...)
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