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Rethinking responsibility in offenders with acquired paedophilia: Punishment or treatment?


Gilbert, F and Focquaert, F, Rethinking responsibility in offenders with acquired paedophilia: Punishment or treatment?, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 38 pp. 51-60. ISSN 0160-2527 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2015.01.007


This article reviews the current neurobiological literature on the aetiology of developmental and acquired paedophilia and examineswhat the consequences could be in terms of responsibility and treatment for the latter. Addressing the question of responsibility and punishment of offenders with acquired paedophilia from a neurobiological perspective is controversial. Consequently it is essential to avoid hasty conclusions based strictly on neurobiological abnormality justifications. This study establishes a distinction between developmental and acquired paedophilia. The article investigates whether offenders who fulfil the diagnosis of acquired paedophilia should be held fully responsible, particularly in cases where the offender's conduct appears to result from volitionally controlled behaviour that is seemingly incompatible with a neurological cause.Moreover, the article explores howresponsibility can be compromisedwhen offenders with acquired paedophilia have (partially) preserved moral knowledge despite their sexual disorder. The article then examines the option of offering mandatory treatment as an alternative to imprisonment for offenders with acquired paedophilia. Furthermore, the article addresses the ethical issues related to offering any form of quasi-coercive treatment as a condition of release. This study concludes that decisions to fully or partially excuse an individual who fulfil the diagnosis of acquired paedophilia should take all relevant information into account, both neurobiological and other environmental evidence, and should proceed on a careful case by case analysis before sentencing or offering treatment.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Neurotechnologies, treatment, responsibility, acquired pedophilia, Chemical castration, Treatment effectiveness
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:98096
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Arts, Law and Education
Deposited On:2015-02-02
Last Modified:2018-04-10

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