The Non-Problem of Free Will in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 25, pp. 203-220, 2007

U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 07-19

19 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2007

See all articles by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Abstract

This article demonstrates that there is no free will problem in forensic psychiatry and psychology by showing that free will or its lack is not a criterion for any legal doctrine and it is not an underlying general foundation for legal responsibility doctrines and practices. There is a genuine metaphysical free will problem, but the article demonstrates why it is not relevant to forensic practice. Forensic practitioners are urged to avoid all usage of free will in their forensic thinking and work product because it is irrelevant and spawns confusion.

Keywords: free will, reason, forensic psychiatry and psychology, criminal responsibility, excuse, mental health laws, law and philosophy, determinism, incompatibilism, compatibilism, jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Morse, Stephen J., The Non-Problem of Free Will in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 25, pp. 203-220, 2007; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 07-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=982192

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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