Responsibility and the brain

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Chapter 11 endnote 32, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

The wrong way to use neuroscience in court is to argue that a biological explanation automatically releases someone from responsibility. [...]. The same argument could serve as a reason to keep Albertani locked up.

If one argues that Albertani’s aggression was caused by a variation in brain structure, that same argument could just as easily be used as a reason to keep her locked up in prison forever. If her brain caused her to commit her crime, and her brain size is not curable, then this is inculpation. In fact, biological explanations of mental disorders tends to reduce empathy and increase perceptions that certain people are abnormal and, perhaps, not quite fully human.[1]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Lebowitz, Matthew S. and Woo-kyoung Ahn. 2014. "Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians’ empathy." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(50): 17786-17790.