[ExI] insanity plea
anders at aleph.se
Wed Feb 27 00:12:10 UTC 2013
On 25/02/2013 18:49, John Clark wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se
> <mailto: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.
We are not talking about the ax-chase part, but what happens once I get
caught by the police and/or doctors.
If I was chasing after you because you owed me money, then it is a
matter for the justice system: I had a reason, I was aware that I could
harm you and that this was against the law and common decency (even
though the debt might have been big). I choose (using the neural
mechanisms of action selection in my brain) to use the ax instead of
sending lawyers after you. I had a choice: humans in this kind of
situation can and do use non-violent means to get their money.
If I was chasing after you because I believed that you were a leprechaun
who stole my name, then that is evidence that my reality checking is
broken and it is a matter for the hospital. Nobody says that delusional
people have a real choice (they do not update their beliefs when given
clear evidence against them).
> 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.
See my other recent post: you might disagree, but people actually have a
lot of other reasons for criminal law. And many of these make the
insanity defence totally sensible. (But it is not applicable to that
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
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