[ExI] insanity plea

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Feb 26 00:46:57 UTC 2013

On Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 5:49 AM, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
>> > Criminals are assumed to know right from wrong but choose to do wrong;
>> > mentally ill people might or might not have that ability
> I don't understand what ability you're talking about. If you choose to do
> wrong you either did it for a reason (bad genes or a bad environment or
> both) or you did a bad thing for no reason whatsoever (a random quantum
> fluctuation in your head). Neither possibility would matter to me in the
> slightest if you were chasing me with a bloody ax, I don't care why you're
> doing it I just want you to stop. And I think preventing things like that is
> the only reason to have criminal law at all, and so in a logical world that
> would leave no room whatsoever for the insanity defense. I'm not even sure
> what "he couldn't help it" means, and even if it does means something I
> don't care, I just want you to stop chasing me with that damn ax.

There is no point in punishment if perpetrators and potential
perpetrators aren't going to change their behaviour. If you're
thinking of murdering someone to take their money the thought of being
punished may deter you, and even if it doesn't, your punishment after
the fact may deter other murderers. But if you have no control over
what you do, because for example you are driven by command auditory
hallucinations, then fear of the consequences won't stop you acting,
nor will it stop anyone else acting who gets the same illness as you
do. It may still be appropriate to detain you at least until you are
no longer dangerous, but punishing you would be useless.

Stathis Papaioannou

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