Does Criminal Responsibility Rest Upon a False Supposition? No
Washington University Journal of Jurisprudence, Volume 13, Issue 1 (2020)
21 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2021
Date Written: December 1, 2020
Our understanding of folk and scientific psychology often informs the law’s conclusions regarding questions about the voluntariness of a defendant’s action. The field of psychology plays a direct role in the law’s conclusions about a defendant’s guilt, innocence, and term of incarceration. However, physical sciences such as neuroscience increasingly deny the intuitions behind psychology. This paper examines contemporary biases against the autonomy of psychology and responds with considerations that cast doubt upon the legitimacy of those biases. The upshot is that if reasonable doubt is established regarding whether psychology’s role in the law should be displaced, then there is room for future work to be done with respect to the truth of psychology’s conclusions about criminal responsibility.
Keywords: criminal responsibility, reductionism, psychology, neuroscience, empiricism, scientific realism
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