« Vintage Photos: 1943 | Main | Vintage Photos: 1943 »

Monday, May 14, 2012


Yes, I read the article this weekend, and am still thinking about it. (In fact, I brought it up with my class today). One of the really strange issues that arises is also the idea of moral responsibility. You cited the evidence that psychopaths may have a decreased responsiveness of the amygdala - perhaps related to their difficulty emotionally anticipating negative consequences of their actions or feeling the negative emotion most of us would feel imagining someone else's suffering. Whatever the neural abnormality, if it's the case that they're born with these abnormalities, is it logical for us to blame them for their actions? (I don't know, but it sure raises difficult issues).

It wasn't surprising to confirm this topic would be associated with criminal defense strategy........

LeDoux has been asked by lawyers to help put together an “amygdala defense” to show that their client’s crime was not based off of free will but rather the fault of a small almond-shaped part of the brain that we call the amygdala. A few weeks ago Jess wrote a blog post on using the brain as a defense in the courtroom (involving a man with a brain tumor that pressed on his amygdala who ended up going on a killing spree), but I wanted to go a little further.



The blame angle is an interesting one. I'm probably more tolerant than many people when it comes to lengthy incarceration for crimes that inflict great harm on others, but decidedly less punitive than most. I really do think many people have less control than we like to think, so I see an obligation to separate them from the rest of us but, at the same time, treat them with far more humanity than our prison system treats them. I'm interested in protecting all of us rather than inflicting retributive pain on the predators among us.

Well. At the risk of supporting generational cliche, we have taught them to be who they are. Please do not try to deflect the responsibility. Historionic Effect asserts itself, time after time. Blame, and other associated issues are being addressed over on the Philosophy Talk blog. I'm reading that with some interest---to see what develops: not much yet...

The comments to this entry are closed.