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Neuroethics: Should We Rethink Free Will and Criminal Responsibility?


Gilbert, F, Neuroethics: Should We Rethink Free Will and Criminal Responsibility?, Proceedings of the Third International Conference in Applied Ethics, 21-23 November, Hokkaido University, Japan, pp. 87-95. (2008) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Copyright 2008 The Author

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Applied ethics issue: Since most neuroscientists support neurobiological determinism, does it entail the end of free will or even criminal responsibility?

Methods: We explore whether the notion of neurobiological determinism is compatible with the concept of criminal responsibility. Based on this exploration, we analyse the notions of free will, determinism and responsibility. Our central goal is to confront common philosophical arguments about free will with neurobiological evidence. We try to find whether responsibility is necessarily linked to free will, and if not, we examine whether this should imply the end of responsibility.

Results: We propose to liberate ethical debate from a traditional libertarian conception of free will, according to which a person could have decided to act differently given the same initial conditions. Our purpose is to argue that, although criminals are somehow determined by known or unknown neurobiological causes, administering the appropriate treatment to them based on their choices and decisions is still justified on consequentialist grounds.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:consequentialism, compatibilism, criminal, determinism, free will, hard determinism, incompatibilism, libertarian, neurobiological determinism, responsibility, retribution
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Ethical use of new technology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Gilbert, F (Dr Frederic Gilbert)
ID Code:82253
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:2013-01-23
Last Modified:2014-11-24
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