“Maybe we’re not the one driving the boat”

So, I was just thinking over the past couple days about how many of the discoveries of modern neuroscience seem to attack the precepts of autonomy and free will. Then I wandered over to reason.com and discovered an interview with a neuroscientist who specializes in the law, sharing his views on this very topic. A couple interesting points…

* He argues that neuroscience can actually help people gain autonomy by engaging in therapies that can fix impulse control, something criminals are famously short on. The exact nature of these “therapies” is not discussed.

* He comments on something that’s already happening, the idea of basing sentences on a person’s brain state. If they have a diseased brain that will likely reoffend, give them longer sentences etc.

* When asked whether modern neuroscience challenges libertarian ideas of autonomy, the answer is an unqualified yes. “You are your biology.”

Of course, at some point he argues that all this doesn’t excuse criminal behavior. Er, sorry, yes it does.

The comments section has some interesting discussion of the nature free will.

2 Responses to ““Maybe we’re not the one driving the boat””


  1. John Saleeby

    I should probably be able to come with something interesting to say about this but I can’t. Maybe “Free Will” is only for people who don’t suck. Fuck them!

  2. Wil

    Now I’ve got “Free Will” by Rush running through my head.