[ExI] insanity plea

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 21:21:19 UTC 2013

On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Detaining someone is not the same as punishing them.

The inmates in a penitentiary would disagree with you.

> > I could experience passivity phenomena that cause me to hit you,

Then you're a very dangerous man.

> and in that case I have no more control over it that if I tripped and
> fell on top of you.

I don't care.

> You start hearing the voice of God telling you that you must kill your
> neighbour in order to prevent the Earth being hit by an asteroid. You kill
> the neighbour, and the police arrest you. They ask you why you did it and
> you tell them. They arrange a medical assessment and the doctor notices
> that you have tachycardia, tremor, exophthalmos, weight loss and complain
> of feeling hot even though it's cold. He orders thyroid function tests and
> finds that you have Grave's Disease. You are admitted to hospital and are
> treated with anti-thyroid medication, and later a rhyroidectomy, with
> resolution of the symptoms, including the psychosis. Now well, you are
> aghast at what you've done. At your trial, you point out that not only have
> you never hurt another human being in your entire life, you are also an
> atheist, as evidenced by your posts from this very list. Moreover, the
> cause of your psychotic state, hyperthyroidism, has now been cured
> surgically, and you pose no further risk to society. None of the facts of
> the case are disputed by the prosecution. Should you still get the same
> punishment as any other murderer?

My mental malfunction has been repaired and I am quite literally not the
same man I was, so if the doctors can say beyond a reasonable doubt that I
am no more likely to murder again than the general population then I should
be released. However in the real world the thought experiment you describe
almost never happens,  and I'm not sure if I should have said "almost".

  John K Clark
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