The Scientific Challenge to Free Will and Criminal Responsibility: Why modern science could be a corrective force in a criminal justice system that aspires to-- but falls short of -- the ideals of retributive proportionality.

This Note addresses whether criminals law’s assumptions about “free will” might be undermined and transformed by modern science. Existing scholarship has focused on the assumptions about human freedom that underlie substantive criminal law doctrine and foundational theories of punishment. In contrast, I explore the points of discretion in the criminal justice system, where key actors in the sentencing process are authorized to make moral determinations outside of the ordinary doctrinal framework. I observe that discretionary moral adjudication in the criminal justice system contains implicit judgments about human agency, and reflects folk beliefs about free will. In particular, key sentencing actors bring a distorted view of human agency to bear on their sentencing decisions. This distorted view results in a moral blind spot, disabling adjudicators from moral inferences that militate in favor of restraint in sentencing. Hence, I argue, modern science could have a corrective moral influence on criminal law, by fostering amongst key sentencing actors a more realistic view of human behavior.

"…could have"…that’s known as strong support in my neck of the woods. And talking about what the law considers realistic human behavior is fascinating… in that it’s like a dark Grimm fairy tale.

31 notes


  1. mq420 said: I agree but me being so deep into Psychiatry I doubt that anything changes anytime soon because the public demands “justice” and does give a shit what some fucking academics think. I would support you work but I dont see any way to convice the public
  2. paradoxicalparadigms reblogged this from psydoctor8
  3. icrappoetry said: David Hume in the 18th century advocated that freewill was compatible with science at the time, and arguably now (every event has a cause, unless we appeal to quantum physics). ‘Folk beliefs about freewill’ can be either compatibilist or libertarian.
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  8. littleorphanammo said: But is it that only the ones I don’t love love me back or I love the ones who won’t love me. WHICH ONE IS IT. THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD BE FOCUSING YOUR FOCII
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