Prof. Cohen and I answer six questions: (1) Why do we lock people up? (2) How can involuntary civil commitment be reconciled with people's constitutional right to liberty? (3) Why don't we treat homicide as a public health threat? (4) What is the difference between legal and medical approaches to mental illness? (5) Why is mental illness required for involuntary commitment? (6) Where are we in our efforts to understand the causes of mental illness?
This invited entry offers a brief overview of criminal responsibility. -/- The first part starts with a question: is Clyde criminally responsible for killing his girlfriend Bonnie? The answer: it depends. Particular circumstances determine whether Clyde is guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter, not guilty because he has a good excuse, or not guilty because he has a good justification. -/- The second part addresses the complicated relationship between criminal responsibility and moral responsibility. Until recently, both concepts were considered to (...) be more or less interchangeable. But there is a growing movement, which I refer to as "responsibility skepticism," which maintains that moral responsibility is either physically or metaphysically impossible. If the responsibility skeptics are right (that moral responsibility is impossible), then what are the implications for criminal responsibility and just criminal punishment? Should we abandon these as well? Or can they survive without moral responsibility? I try to answer these questions. -/- The third part addresses social causation. The criminal justice system tends to be "dispositionalist"; it tends, that is, to assume that criminal responsibility resides entirely within the defendant. Dispositionalism, however, overlooks the fact that who we are and what we do are significantly determined by environmental influences. I then try to show that this "situationist" alternative to dispositionalism should not radically alter our approach to criminal punishment. -/- The final part briefly discusses the difficulty in evaluating criminal responsibility when the defendant is both an offender and a victim - especially when the defendant is an offender *because* of his victimization. (shrink)
This Article falls into three general parts. The first part starts with an important question: is the insanity defense constitutionally required? The United States Supreme Court will finally try to answer this question next term in the case of Kahler v. Kansas. -/- I say “finally” because the Court refused to answer this question in 2012 when it denied certiorari to an appeal brought by John Joseph Delling, a severely mentally ill defendant who was sentenced to life in prison three (...) years earlier for two murders. Delling never had the opportunity to plead the insanity defense because his home state, Idaho, had abolished it in 1982. -/- By depriving Delling of the right to plead insanity, Idaho violated Delling’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and his Eighth Amendment right against “cruel and unusual” punishment. Naturally, the same is true for many other mentally ill and disabled defendants who have been prosecuted in Idaho and in the other three states that have abolished the insanity defense: Kansas, Montana, and Utah. -/- The second general part of this Article notes an insight that I stumbled upon in the course of researching the first part: the insanity defense and the mistake of law defense both require ignorance of the law, what I refer to as “normative ignorance.” Indeed, normative ignorance is what makes both of these defenses exculpatory in the first place. -/- Given this critical connection, there is a way for Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah to resume compliance with the Constitution. Instead of reinstating the insanity defense per se, which might be politically unpopular, they should just broaden their mistake of law defense to include normative ignorance caused by cognitive incapacity that is itself caused by mental illness or disability. -/- Still, this Article is not merely directed at these four western states. It is directed at the other forty-six states as well. Because they already have an insanity defense, they need not incorporate it into their mistake of law defense. But in the third general part, I will argue that they should still expand their mistake of law defense to cover defendants who either lack a reasonable opportunity to learn the law or reasonably but mistakenly infer from widely accepted norms or ethics that their conduct is lawful. (shrink)
In this Article, I will argue that a person may be deserving of criminal punishment even in certain situations where she is not necessarily morally responsible for her criminal act. What these situations share in common are two things: the psychological factors that motivate the individual’s behavior are environmentally determined and her crime is serious, making her less eligible for sympathy and therefore less likely to be acquitted. -/- To get to this conclusion, I will proceed in four steps. In (...) Part II, I will offer the first two of these steps. First, I will argue that our foundational assumption that moral responsibility is necessary for just blame and punishment is not self-evident and is actually rather difficult to explain and justify. Second, I will offer an explanation and justification that appeals to our moral psychology. Specifically, I will argue that we subscribe to this assumption ultimately because we sympathize with agents who lack responsibility for their actions. -/- Third, in Part IV, I aim to show that even if moral responsibility is not conceptually — only “emotionally” — necessary for just blame and punishment, the traditionally recognized criminal excuses are not at risk because, contrary to popular wisdom, they do not really rely on this assumption to begin with. Instead, they stand less for the metaphysical proposition that we should refrain from blaming and punishing the non-responsible and more for the normative/ethical proposition that we should refrain from blaming and punishing those whom we cannot reasonably expect to have acted better. I will further argue that the latter proposition does not necessarily reduce to the former. -/- Fourth, once I have defended my account of the excuses, I will question in Parts V and VI the increasingly popular notion that we should add certain conditions or circumstances to the list of recognized excuses. I will focus on one in particular — the psychological theory of “situationism” — and will argue that, despite its initial plausibility, it should be kept off the list. While situationism arguably does negate moral responsibility, it does not negate criminal responsibility. -/- Of course, this is a controversial point. Criminal responsibility is almost universally thought to require moral responsibility. But in a previous article, "Dangerous Psychopaths: Criminally Responsible But Not Morally Responsible, Subject to Criminal Punishment And to Preventive Detention," 48 San Diego L. Rev. 1299, I used personality psychology to drive a wedge between the two. In this article, I will use the opposite end of the psychological spectrum — social psychology — to drive the same important wedge. (shrink)
I argue for two propositions. First, contrary to the common wisdom, we may justly punish individuals who are not morally responsible for their crimes. Psychopaths – individuals who lack the capacity to feel sympathy – help to prove this point. Scholars are increasingly arguing that psychopaths are not morally responsible for their behavior because they suffer from a neurological disorder that makes it impossible for them to understand, and therefore be motivated by, moral reasons. These same scholars then infer from (...) this conclusion that they must also lack criminal responsibility and therefore that our continuing to punish psychopaths for their crimes is unjust. My response is that this inference is entirely fallacious. -/- Criminal responsibility turns out to be quite distinct from moral responsibility. The two kinds of responsibility require very different conditions to be satisfied. In particular, criminal responsibility, unlike moral responsibility, does not require an agent be able to grasp and follow moral reasons; it requires only that the individual be able to grasp and follow criminal laws. Once this point is recognized, it becomes much easier to accept my thesis: while the subset of psychopaths who commit crimes are not morally responsible for their criminal behavior because they cannot understand moral reasons, they are still criminally responsible because they can understand what the consequences will be if they get caught. For this reason, even though I concede that psychopaths are not morally responsible for the crimes that they commit, our practice of punishing them for these crimes is still just. -/- Second, I argue that psychopathy is a mental illness and should be recognized as such. One reason that it should be recognized as a mental illness is simply because it is; it satisfies the main criteria for inclusion in the DSM-IV, the “bible” of mental disorders. The other reason is more practical than conceptual. It starts with two facts: the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the preventive detention of any individual who is not a criminal suspect is not constitutional unless the individual is not only dangerous but also mentally ill; and psychopathy is not currently considered to be a mental illness. So, as things now stand, we cannot preventively commit dangerous psychopaths – that is, psychopaths who have clearly indicated that they will be committing serious crimes. Instead, we must wait for them to commit the crimes before we can lock them up. Unfortunately, this incarceration always comes too late for the victims. It would therefore be better if we could lock them up before they actually inflict any harm. Once again, then, I propose that the legal and psychological communities classify psychopathy as a mental illness. (shrink)
Peter Baumann uses the Monty Hall game to demonstrate that probabilities cannot be meaningfully applied to individual games. Baumann draws from this first conclusion a second: in a single game, it is not necessarily rational to switch from the door that I have initially chosen to the door that Monty Hall did not open. After challenging Baumann's particular arguments for these conclusions, I argue that there is a deeper problem with his position: it rests on the false assumption that what (...) justifies the switching strategy is its leading me to win a greater percentage of the time. In fact, what justifies the switching strategy is not any statistical result over the long run but rather the "causal structure" intrinsic to each individual game itself. Finally, I argue that an argument by Hilary Putnam will not help to save Baumann's second conclusion above. (shrink)
Disclosure of true but reputation-damaging information is generally legal. But threats to disclose true but reputation-damaging information unless payment is made are generally criminal. Many scholars think that this situation is paradoxical because it seems to involve illegality mysteriously arising out of legality, a criminal act mysteriously arising out of an independently legal threat to disclose conjoined with an independently legal demand for money. -/- But this formulation is not quite right. The real paradox raised by the different legal statuses (...) of blackmail threats to disclose and disclosure itself involves a contradiction between our strong intuition that blackmail threats should be criminal and some equally strong arguments, all of which depend on the fact that disclosure is legal, that blackmail threats should be legal. So an adequate solution to the real Blackmail Paradox requires us either to drop the intuition or to refute the pro-legalization arguments. -/- This Article will adopt the latter approach. It will explain why the six main arguments for legalizing blackmail threats all fail. In the course of refuting one of these arguments, it will also offer a novel positive justification for criminalizing blackmail threats: they should be criminal for the same reason that menacing, harassment, and stalking are criminal--namely, because they involve the reasonable likelihood, and usually the intent, of putting the victim into a state of especially great fear and anxiety. -/- Of course, one might object that disclosure itself is likely to have the same effect, if not malicious purpose. Yet, again, it is still legal. But this point shows only that we as a society value freedom of speech more than we value freedom from infliction of emotional injury. It does not show that we do not value freedom from infliction of emotional injury sufficiently to protect it when competing moral or institutional interests such as freedom of speech are not at stake. (shrink)
Consider the reaction of Trayvon Martin’s family to the jury verdict. They were devastated that George Zimmerman, the defendant, was found not guilty of manslaughter or murder. Whatever the merits of this outcome, what does the Martin family’s emotional reaction mean? What does it say about criminal punishment – especially the reasons why we punish? Why did the Martin family want to see George Zimmerman go to jail? And why were – and are – they so upset that he didn’t? (...) -/- This Article will argue for three points. First, what fuels this kind of outrage is vengeance: the desire to see defendants like George Zimmerman be forced to “pay” for the harms that they needlessly and culpably inflict on others. While this point may seem obvious, it isn’t. Most people repudiate revenge and therefore the notion that it plays any role in the criminal justice system. -/- Second, this attitude toward revenge is misguided and needs to change. We need to recognize that vengeance not only does but should play a significant role in motivating criminal punishment. Our vengeful reactions to harmful crimes are not ugly or shameful; on the contrary, they manifest a deep valuation of victims and a bitter denunciation of individuals who actively renounce this valuation through their criminal behavior. -/- Third, these two points have significant implications for the two main theories of criminal punishment: “retributivism,” which says that criminals should be punished in order to give them their “just deserts,” and “consequentialism,” which says that criminals should be punished in order to bring about such good consequences as deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. Traditionally, these two theories have been at war with one another. But I will show how recognizing revenge as a motivation and justification for punishment can help to end this war and bring these two theories together. (shrink)
My article concerns constitutional interpretation and substantive due process, issues that played a central role in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), one of the two same-sex marriage cases. (The other same-sex marriage case was United States v. Windsor (2013).) -/- The late Justice Scalia consistently maintained that the Court “invented” substantive due process and continues to apply this legal “fiction” not because the Constitution supports it but simply because the justices like it. Two theories underlay his cynical conclusion. First is the (...) theory of “Constitutional Textualism”—or just plain “Textualism”—which says that the meaning of the Constitution lies entirely within the “four corners” of the document. Second is the theory of “Originalism,” which says that this meaning was fixed at the time of ratification. (Likewise, the meanings of the amendments were fixed at the time of their ratification.) -/- While Justice Scalia helped to inspire a Textualist/Originalist (and anti-substantive-due-process) movement, his Originalism has received far more attention than his Textualism. Since Judge Robert Bork first introduced Originalism to the general public during his Supreme Court nomination hearings in 1987, this theory has ignited passions on all sides and effectively re-framed the entire debate about how to interpret the Constitution. Constitutional scholars, left and right, now define themselves as either for or against Originalism. Meanwhile, Textualism has merely retreated into the background. -/- Part of the reason for this disparate treatment is that many who reject Originalism still consider themselves to be Textualists. They agree with Justice Scalia (and Judge Bork) that the text is all-important. They disagree, however, that its meaning was fixed for eternity at ratification. Instead, they maintain that either the meaning of the text or applications of this meaning to new cases can change as society changes. -/- In this Article, I bring Textualism out of Originalism’s shadow and into broad daylight. I argue that once we dig just a little deeper into the proposition that all of the meaning in the Constitution inheres in its words, we find that this theory simply cannot work. In order to interpret the nation’s foundational document, we must resort to assumptions that it does not explicitly state. (Indeed, even Textualism itself is a theory that the Constitution does not explicitly endorse.) And the notion that “extra-textual” assumptions necessarily inform our interpretations of the Constitution poses a direct and insurmountable threat to Textualism. -/- The Constitution actually requires each judge, when faced with a case concerning the right to privacy, not merely to consider the text but also to anticipate and evaluate the moral, social, and political consequences of both possible decisions before choosing between them. While this position may initially sound counterintuitive, it turns out to be a much more realistic theory of constitutional interpretation than Textualism (and Originalism). -/- I ultimately conclude that, contrary to Justice Scalia, the Constitution most certainly does protect a right to privacy. For what it’s worth, the Obergefell majority agree with me (and oppose Justice Scalia). I aim to show exactly why they are correct. (shrink)
We explicate and evaluate arguments both for and against the insanity defense itself, different versions of the insanity defense (M'Naghten, Model Penal Code, and Durham (or Product)), the Irresistible Impulse rule, and various reform proposals.
I argue that Descartes' Second Causal Proof of God in the Third Meditation evidences, and commits him to, the belief that time is "strongly discontinuous" -- that is, that there is actually a gap between each consecutive moment of time. Much of my article attempts to reconcile this interpretation, the "received view," with Descartes' statements about time, space, and matter in his other writings, including his correspondence with various philosophers.
The Blockage Argument is designed to improve upon Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by removing the counterfactual intervener altogether. If the argument worked, then it would prove in a way that Frankfurt’s argument does not that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, not even the weakest “flicker of freedom”. -/- Some philosophers have rejected the Blockage Argument solely on the basis of their intuition that the inability to do otherwise is incompatible with (...) moral responsibility. I will argue, however, that it is not merely the inability to do otherwise by itself but rather the inability to do otherwise in combination with the absence of a counterfactual intervener that is incompatible with moral responsibility. If I cannot do otherwise and it is not because of a counterfactual intervener, then it must be the case that I am being forced to choose and therefore act as I do, in which case I cannot be morally responsible for this action. -/- Because the Blockage Argument fails, and because it was really the only way to establish that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, it follows that moral responsibility does indeed require at least one alternative possibility in any given situation. But it turns out that this conclusion does not tip the balance in favor of incompatibilism over compatibilism. It would have if blockage and determinism were equivalent. But they are not. Unlike blockage, determinism is compatible with certain counterfactuals that compatibilists traditionally believed the ability to do otherwise reduces to. So even though moral responsibility is incompatible with blockage, it does not necessarily follow that moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism. (shrink)
The Surprise Exam Paradox continues to perplex and torment despite the many solutions that have been offered. This paper proposes to end the intrigue once and for all by refuting one of the central pillars of the Surprise Exam Paradox, the 'No Friday Argument,' which concludes that an exam given on the last day of the testing period cannot be a surprise. This refutation consists of three arguments, all of which are borrowed from the literature: the 'Unprojectible Announcement Argument,' the (...) 'Wright & Sudbury Argument,' and the 'Epistemic Blindspot Argument.' The reason that the Surprise Exam Paradox has persisted this long is not because any of these arguments is problematic. On the contrary, each of them is correct. The reason that it has persisted so long is because each argument is only part of the solution. The correct solution requires all three of them to be combined together. Once they are, we may see exactly why the No Friday Argument fails and therefore why we have a solution to the Surprise Exam Paradox that should stick. (shrink)
Gregory Kavka's 'Toxin Puzzle' suggests that I cannot intend to perform a counter-preferential action A even if I have a strong self-interested reason to form this intention. The 'Rationalist Solution,' however, suggests that I can form this intention. For even though it is counter-preferential, A-ing is actually rational given that the intention behind it is rational. Two arguments are offered for this proposition that the rationality of the intention to A transfers to A-ing itself: the 'Self-Promise Argument' and David Gauthier's (...) 'Rational Self-Interest Argument.' But both arguments – and therefore the Rationalist Solution – fail. The Self-Promise Argument fails because my intention to A does not constitute a promise to myself that I am obligated to honor. And Gauthier's Rational Self-Interest Argument fails to rule out the possibility of rational irrationality. (shrink)
For over a century now, American scholars (among others) have been debating the merits of “bad Samaritan” laws — laws punishing people for failing to attempt easy and safe rescues. Unfortunately, the opponents of bad Samaritan laws have mostly prevailed. In the United States, the “no-duty-to-rescue” rule dominates. Only four states have passed bad Samaritan laws, and these laws impose only the most minimal punishment — either sub-$500 fines or short-term imprisonment. -/- This Article argues that every state should criminalize (...) bad Samaritanism. There are three main reasons. First, criminalization is required by the supreme value that we place on protecting human life, a value that motivates laws against both homicide and manslaughter. Second, criminalization is recommended by the “proportionality principle” — i.e., the principle that a law’s level of punishment should be directly proportional to the moral severity of the offense. Third, criminalization would yield a number of significant benefits, including helping to minimize needless deaths and injuries and providing society with an institutional outlet for its outrage against bad Samaritans. -/- Still, many objections have been leveled against bad Samaritan laws. This Article will argue that while some of these objections — for example, the objections involving foundational criminal law principles such as the actus-reus requirement, the harm principle, and causation — are all easily refuted, five other objections are not. These five objections involve pragmatic considerations such as the difficulties with obtaining evidence against bad Samaritans and psychological considerations such as people’s understandable reasons for not wanting to “get involved.” This Article will then put these five objections into reflective equilibrium with the moral arguments for bad Samaritan laws and conclude that while bad Samaritanism should indeed be criminalized, the punishment that convicted bad Samaritans receive should be mild — certainly milder than the level of punishment recommended by the “proportionality principle.” The corollary of this conclusion is that the criminal law should sometimes abandon the proportionality principle. (shrink)
Suppose you are at the gym trying to see some naked beauties by peeping through a hole in the wall. A policeman happens by, he asks you what you are doing, and you honestly tell him. He then arrests you for voyeurism. Are you guilty? We don’t know yet because there is one more fact to be considered: while you honestly thought that a locker room was on the other side of the wall, it was actually a squash court. Are (...) you guilty now? -/- Probably. You might argue that your scopophiliac ambition was impossible to satisfy given that you were peeping into a squash court, not a locker room. But this “Impossibility Defense” would fail because most jurisdictions follow the very influential Model Penal Code (MPC), which says that what is important about attempt is not the likelihood of success but rather what was going on in your head. You tried to peer into a locker room with the intention of seeing some nudity; that is enough for culpability. The fact that you were mistaken about the location does not exonerate you. -/- But now suppose that the particular jurisdiction you are in does not criminalize voyeurism. While most people think that voyeurism is just plain wrong, if not disgusting, the legislature just never got around to drafting a statute against it. Are you guilty now? The answer is no. But you might just be out of luck and convicted anyway. -/- The reason for this strange conclusion is that most jurisdictions have followed the Model Penal Code in yet another respect: along with the MPC’s “subjectivist” emphasis on what is in your head, they have followed the MPC’s lead in abolishing the Impossibility Defense entirely. As a result, people who believe that they are breaking laws when they really are not may still be subject to arrest, prosecution, and conviction respectively by police, prosecutors, and judges/juries merely if all three parties regard your conduct — especially your trying to violate a law that you mistakenly believed in — as morally reprehensible. The best, if not only, defense against this charge is the Impossibility Defense, but — again — most jurisdictions have decided to make this defense unavailable to defendants. -/- Depriving eligible defendants of the Impossibility Defense is unjust. It violates one of the most basic principles of criminal justice: the legality principle. The legality principle says that there cannot be just punishment without a crime, and there should not be a crime without an explicit law designating it as such. So you cannot be charged with, and convicted of, attempted voyeurism if voyeurism, reprehensible as it may be, was not explicitly prohibited at the time that you made the attempt. -/- If we believe in the legality principle, then we must restore the Impossibility Defense. Without the latter, too many defendants are being — and will continue to be — punished for attempts to perform acts that were not themselves illegal but which various parties in the criminal justice system (except the legislature) thought should be illegal based on their extralegal, moral prejudices. -/- In addition to the MPC, the principal obstacle to resurrecting the Impossibility Defense is a good deal of conceptual confusion that permeates relevant cases and scholarship. Too many courts and academics have conflated “factual impossibility” with “legal impossibility” and have fallaciously inferred “hybrid impossibility” from “hybrid mistakes” (that is, legal mistakes that derive from factual mistakes). One of the principal goals of this Article, then, is to clear up all of this confusion. I will explicate in the simplest possible terms (a) the difference between factual impossibility and legal impossibility, (b) why only legal impossibility qualifies as exculpatory, and (c) why hybrid impossibility simply does not exist. (shrink)
A surprisingly large number of scholars believe that (a) we are blameworthy, and therefore punishable, only for what we have control over; (b) we have control only over our actions and intentions, not the consequences of our actions; and therefore (c) if two agents perform the very same action (e.g., attempting to kill) with the very same intentions, then they are equally blameworthy and deserving of equal punishment – even if only one of them succeeds in killing. This paper argues (...) against these “equivalence theorists” that harmful consequences do make a moral difference, that the harm produced by the killer’s attempt retroactively makes her action more blameworthy, and therefore deserving of more punishment, than the failed attempter’s attempt. The primary argument for this “non-equivalence theory” is an analogy with gambling. Just as a gambler makes a deal with the casino to allow metaphysical luck to retroactively determine the “profit status” of her bet, so too the attempted killer makes a deal with “the casino of morality” to allow metaphysical luck to retroactively determine the moral status of her attempt. She makes the “moral deal” that if her attempt succeeds, her attempt was more blameworthy than if her attempt does not succeed. And it is the greater blameworthiness of the killer’s attempt that justifies our intuition that the killer should be punished more harshly than the failed attempter. (shrink)
It is generally thought that ought implies can. If this maxim is correct, then my inability to do otherwise entails that I cannot be blamed for failing to do otherwise. In this article, however, I use Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the "Principle of Alternative Possibilities" (PAP) to show that the maxim is actually false, that I can be blamed for failing to do otherwise even in situations where I could not have done otherwise. In these situations, I do not (...) act otherwise not because I cannot act otherwise but because I choose not to act otherwise.None. (shrink)
Issues include attempts generally; the problem of outcome luck; the impossibility defense; physical movement and intent; and reckless attempts, attempted rape, and attempted theft. In the final section, I offer a hypothetical that challenges Prof. Donnelly-Lazarov's theory.
The euthanasia literature typically discusses the difference between “active” and “passive” means of ending a patient’s life. Physician-assisted suicide differs from both active and passive forms of euthanasia insofar as the physician does not administer the means of suicide to the patient. Instead, she merely prescribes and dispenses them to the patient and lets the patient “do the rest” – if and when the patient chooses. One supposed advantage of this process is that it maximizes the patient’s autonomy with respect (...) to both her decision to die and the dying process itself. Still, despite this supposed advantage, Oregon is the only state to have legalized physician-assisted suicide. After summarizing the most important Supreme Court opinions on euthanasia (namely, Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dep’t of Health; Vacco v. Quill; Washington v. Glucksberg; and Gonzales v. Oregon), this paper argues that while there are no strong ethical reasons against legalizing physician-assisted suicide, there are some very strong policy reasons for keeping it criminal in the other forty-nine states. (shrink)
In this article, I weigh in on the debate between "Humeans" and "New Humeans" concerning David Hume's stance on the existence of causal connections in "the objects." According to New Humeans, Hume believes in causal connections; according to Humeans, he does not. -/- My argument against New Humeans is that it is too difficult to reconcile Hume's repeated claims that causal connections are inconceivable with any belief that they these inconceivable somethings still exist. Specifically, Hume either assumes or does not (...) assume that causal connections do or must exist. If he does not, then the New Hume is false. If he does, then it is only reasonable to expect him to do one of two things: (1) provide explicit and unambiguous statements to the effect that he still believes that causal connections do or must exist despite his belief that we cannot even conceive of them and/or (2) provide textual evidence that he subscribes to a reason for believing that causal connections do or must exist in the objects despite his belief that we cannot even conceive of them. I then argue that Hume never satisfies either (1) or (2). -/- My ultimate conclusion is not that the New Hume is false. On the contrary, in section IX, I will argue that the New Hume is still a viable possibility if we attribute a certain other position to Hume – what I will refer to as "Newtonian Empiricism." But I will also argue that this rather plausible interpretation of Hume is equally consistent with Hume's being an agnostic about causal connections and Hume's being a Humean about causal connections. Therefore while we have no good reason to subscribe to the New Hume (rather than Hume's being an agnostic or a Humean), we cannot conclusively rule out this interpretation. (shrink)
The Blockage Argument is designed to improve upon Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by removing the counterfactual intervener altogether. If the argument worked, then it would prove in a way that Frankfurt’s argument does not that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, not even the weakest “flicker of freedom”. Some philosophers have rejected the Blockage Argument solely on the basis of their intuition that the inability to do otherwise is incompatible with moral (...) responsibility. I will argue, however, that it is not merely the inability to do otherwise by itself but rather the inability to do otherwise in combination with the absence of a counterfactual intervener that is incompatible with moral responsibility. If I cannot do otherwise and it is not because of a counterfactual intervener, then it must be the case that I am being forced to choose and therefore act as I do, in which case I cannot be morally responsible for this action. Because the Blockage Argument fails, and because it was really the only way to establish that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, it follows that moral responsibility does indeed require at least one alternative possibility in any given situation. But it turns out that this conclusion does not tip the balance in favor of incompatibilism over compatibilism. It would have if blockage and determinism were equivalent. But they are not. Unlike blockage, determinism is compatible with certain counterfactuals that compatibilists traditionally believed the ability to do otherwise reduces to. So even though moral responsibility is incompatible with blockage, it does not necessarily follow that moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism. (shrink)
Libertarians like Robert Kane believe that indeterminism is necessary for free will. They think this in part because they hold both that my being the ultimate cause of at least part of myself is necessary for free will and that indeterminism is necessary for this "ultimate self-causation". But seductive and intuitive as this "USC Libertarianism" may sound, it is untenable. In the end, no metaphysically coherent conception of ultimate self-causation is available. So the basic intuition motivating the USC Libertarian is (...) ultimately impossible to fulfill. (shrink)
The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
F. A. Hayek is uniquely responsible for his fellow economists grasping the importance of the decentralization of knowledge: as Hayek shows in his pathbreaking “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” knowledge nowhere exists as a coherent whole and to pretend otherwise is a most serious error. Hayek also shares responsibility for the popularity of a strong form of the methodological individualist research program which asserts that since collectives as such have no impact on the choices of individuals, investigators ought to (...) purge any reliance on collectives from our analysis. (shrink)
This article analyzes new material on the history of the amicable numbers. It discusses Hebrew texts which throw new light on the diffusion in Medieval Europe of Ṯābit ibn Qurra's work. We find Ṯābit's theorem on amicable numbers in a Hebrew translation, made in Saragossa in 1395, of an arithmetical commentary written by Abū al-Ṣalt al-Andalusī, and also in an original Hebrew text probably written by the Jewish Provençal scholar Qalonymos ben Qalonymos. These texts lend strong support to the surmise (...) that the Arabic tradition concerning amicable numbers could not have remained unknown to European mathematicians before the work of Descartes and Fermat in the 17th century. Dans cet article, on analyse des données nouvelles concernant l'histoire des nombres amiables. Les textes hébreux qui sont cités permettent d'éclairer la diffusion, dans l'Europe médiévale, des résultats établis par Tābit ibn Qurra au IX e siècle: en effet, le théorème sur les nombres amiables auquel est attaché son nom apparaît aussi bien dans une traduction effectuée à Saragosse, en 1395, d'un commentaire arithmétique d'Abū al-Ṣalt al-Andalusī, que dans une composition originale attribuée au savant juif provençal Qalonymos ben Qalonymos d'Arles. Ces témoignages renforcent l'hypothèse selon laquelle la tradition arabe dans ce domaine n'a pas pu être ignorée des mathématiciens européens, avant les résultats énoncés par Descartes et Fermat au XVII e siècle. (shrink)
In Baumann (American Philosophical Quarterly 42: 71–79, 2005) I argued that reflections on a variation of the Monty Hall problem throws a very general skeptical light on the idea of single-case probabilities. Levy (Synthese, forthcoming, 2007) puts forward some interesting objections which I answer here.
The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He argues that the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to (...) luck than is compatibilism. But compatibilist accounts of luck are themselves vulnerable to a powerful luck objection: historical compatibilisms cannot satisfactorily explain how agents can take responsibility for their constitutive luck; non-historical compatibilisms run into insurmountable difficulties with the epistemic condition on control over action. Levy argues that because epistemic conditions on control are so demanding that they are rarely satisfied, agents are not blameworthy for performing actions that they take to be best in a given situation. It follows that if there are any actions for which agents are responsible, they are akratic actions; but even these are unacceptably subject to luck. Levy goes on to discuss recent non-historical compatibilisms, and argues that they do not offer a viable alternative to control-based compatibilisms. He suggests that luck undermines our freedom and moral responsibility no matter whether determinism is true or not. (shrink)
Neil Levy presents a new theory of freedom and responsibility. He defends a particular account of consciousness--the global workspace view--and argues that consciousness plays an especially important role in action. There are good reasons to think that the naïve assumption, that consciousness is needed for moral responsibility, is in fact true.
Hackl, Koster-Hale & Varvoutis provide data that suggest that in a null context, antecedent-contained deletion relative clause structures modifying a quantified object noun phrase are easier to process than those modifying a definite object NP. HKV argue that this pattern of results supports a quantifier-raising analysis of both ACD structures and quantified NPs in object position: under the account they advocate, both ACD resolution and quantified NPs in object position require movement of the object NP to a higher syntactic position. (...) The processing advantage for quantified object NPs in ACD is hypothesized to derive from the fact that—at the point where ACD resolution must take place—the quantified NP has already undergone QR, whereas this is not the case for definite NPs. Here, we question these conclusions. In particular, our analyses of HKV’s reading time data reveal several unreported choice points, errors and concerns regarding multiple comparisons in the original HKV data analysis. Importantly, most other plausible ways to analyze these data that we describe here result in the crucial interaction being non-significant. Putting this observation together with the failure to observe the crucial interaction in Gibson & Levy, we conclude that the experiments reported by HKV should not be viewed as providing evidence for the ACD quantifier-raising processing effect. (shrink)
The author comments on the article “The Neurobiology of Addiction: Implications for Voluntary Control of Behavior,‘ by S. E. Hyman. Hyman’s article suggests that addicted individuals have impairments in cognitive control of behavior. The author agrees with Hyman’s view that addiction weakens the addict’s ability to align his actions with his judgments. The author states that neuroethics may focus on brains and highlight key aspects of behavior but we still risk missing explanatory elements. Accession Number: 24077912; Authors: Levy, Neil (...) 1,2; Email Address: email@example.com; Affiliations: 1: University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia; 2: University of Oxford; Subject: ADDICTIONS; Subject: ALCOHOLISM; Subject: COGNITION; Subject: BEHAVIOR; Subject: JUDGMENT; Subject: HYMAN, S. E.; Subject: NEUROBIOLOGY; Number of Pages: 2p. (shrink)
This article summarizes the theory of federalism as non-domination Iris Marion Young began to develop in her final years, a theory of self-government that tried to recognize interconnectedness. Levy also poses an objection to that theory: non-domination cannot do the work Young needed of it, because it is a theory about the merits of decisions not about jurisdiction over them. The article concludes with an attempt to give Young the last word.
'A whole man, made of all men, worth all of them, and any one of them worth him.' This was how Jean-Paul Sartre characterized himself at the end of his autobiographical study, Words. And Bernard-Henri Levy shows how Sartre cannot be understood without taking into account his relations with the intellectual forebears and contemporaries, the lovers and friends, with whom he conducted a lifelong debate. His thinking was essentially a tumultuous dialogue with his whole age and himself. He learned (...) from Gide the art of freedom, and how to experiment with inherited fictional forms. He was a fellow-traveller of communism, and yet his relations with the Party were deeply ambiguous. He was fascinated by Freud but trenchantly critical of psychoanalysis. Beneath Sartre's complex and ever-mutating political commitments, Levy detects a polarity between anarchic individualism on the one hand, and a longing for absolute community that brought him close to totalitarianism on the other. Levy depicts Sartre as a man who could succumb to the twentieth century's catastrophic attraction to violence and the false messianism of its total political solutions, while also being one of the fiercest critics of its illusions and shortcomings. (shrink)
In this highly original book, Donald Levy considers the most important and persuasive of these philosophical criticisms, as articulated by four figures: Ludwig Wittgenstein, William James, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Adolf Grunbaum.
Ce témoignage écrit est le récit d'un 8 mars, très particulier, dans un pays aujourd'hui déchiré par la guerre civile, l'Algérie. Catherine Lévy a enseigné de 1962 à 1965 en tant que « pied-rouge » : on désignait ainsi les Français et les Françaises qui sont partis en Algérie après l'indépendance pour aider à la construction de l'Algérie nouvelle. Professeur au Collège Ben Cheneb à Alger, elle était militante à l'UGTA de Bab-El-Oued et a participé à la manifestation qu'elle décrit (...) ci-d.. (shrink)
"An immensely valuable and detailed analysis of foreign, mainly American, assistance to Latin American higher education, To Export Progress provides an understanding of the 'what' and the 'why' of foreign aid to a key sector. This book will be a classic in its field." —Philip G. Altbach, Monan Professor of Higher Education, Boston College "Professor Daniel C. Levy, a leading authority in the field of higher education and the nonprofit sector in Latin America, once again has opened an otherwise (...) neglected field through his carefully researched and reported study of philanthropic support for university reform in the region. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, documentary evidence, interviews, and first hand experience with the actors and agencies involved, To Export Progress illuminates the vision and ideals inspiring international agencies, as much as the realities they confronted in deciding on grants and loans policy, from the 1960s to the 1980s. The book is strongly recommended for scholars and students of international education, for Latin American experts, and for philanthropic managers and educational administrators in the developing world." —Jorge Balan, Senior Program Officer for Higher Education, The Ford Foundation. In this study of the attempts to export the modern Western university, its ideas, and its form to the Third World, Daniel C. Levy examines the development assistance provided by the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank and their relations with local partners in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. Levy considers the funders, how they selected partners, which countries and institutions were favored, and to what effect. Based on meticulous research and careful analysis, the book provides a detailed look at philanthropic assistance to the region during the era of modernization and development in Latin America. (shrink)
In this book, author David N. Levy uses Machiavelli’s conflict between the elite and the people as the lens through which to understand the other major features of his republicanism. Through analyzing his Discourses on Livy, Levy shows that Machiavelli’s principles can provide support for, and constructive criticism of, modern liberal democracy.
In this book, author David N. Levy uses Machiavelli’s conflict between the elite and the people as the lens through which to understand the other major features of his republicanism. Through analyzing his Discourses on Livy, Levy shows that Machiavelli’s principles can provide support for, and constructive criticism of, modern liberal democracy.
The question of the psychopath's responsibility for his or her wrongdoing has received considerable attention. Much of this attention has been directed toward whether psychopaths are a counterexample to motivational internalism (MI): Do they possess normal moral beliefs, which fail to motivate them? In this paper, I argue that this is a question that remains conceptually and empirically intractable, and that we ought to settle the psychopath's responsibility in some other way. I argue that recent empirical work on the moral (...) judgments of psychopaths provides us with good reason to think that they are not fully responsible agents, because their actions cannot express the kinds of ill-will toward others that grounds attributions of distinctively moral responsibility. I defend this view against objections, especially those due to an influential account of moral responsibility that holds that moral knowledge is not necessary for responsibility. (shrink)
In 1997, a Scottish surgeon by the name of Robert Smith was approached by a man with an unusual request: he wanted his apparently healthy lower left leg amputated. Although details about the case are sketchy, the would-be amputee appears to have desired the amputation on the grounds that his left foot wasn’t part of him – it felt alien. After consultation with psychiatrists, Smith performed the amputation. Two and a half years later, the patient reported that his life had (...) been transformed for the better by the operation . A second patient was also reported as having been satisfied with his amputation . (shrink)