We would, it seems, be justified in imprisoning or institutionalizing them for such an act to prevent them from harming others. But the other justifications for punishment – retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence – seem not to apply very well. By definition, a prison sentence couldn’t deter an individual from doing something he can’t stop himself from doing and rehabilitation could not change an immutable characteristic. Retribution would be even more problematically incoherent. We believe that a man must be able to do what he ought to do; we could not condemn a man for doing something that we believe he cannot choose not to do.
So there’s an article about using neuroscientific evidence to mitigate sentencing of criminals who are diagnosed as psychopaths, by a law professor, specializing in criminal law who has a LLM from Columbia. Great. So, I was going to toss a link and note the usual discrepancies I found within the paper. But swear to god, I feel like law reviews rarely make the distinction between clinical psychopaths and those having psychopathic traits, which leaves a lot of room to argue whatever point they are making. The current research is such that it’s imperative to make these clarifications, especially when talking about criminal offenders since the majority of psychopaths aren’t violent nor criminal. I’m just gonna keep truckin with my spectrum theory, thanks.
Aside from the common problems of reliability and general acceptance in the scientific and legal field… which are issues with any new technology…there is another problem with using fMRI as a lie detector in the courts that is often ignored by brain porn skeptics that is perhaps the easiest to explain:
Defendants cannot be forced to testify against themselves — the Fifth Amendment. So the legal and ethical question here is: If the police put you into a machine that’s reading your mind, are you being forced to testify against yourself? At present, a person can be forced to surrender DNA. Is an f.M.R.I. scan the same thing? - Dr. Matthew Liao, neuroethicist. [via]
Yes and no.