Just to inform that the slides to my two talks at the 33rd International Congress of Law and Mental Health, held in Amsterdam earlier this summer, are now available online for viewing, download and sharing via my Academia.edu site. Both talks represent work in progress, where I am in the beginning of combining thinking on different topics that I have been touching on in isolation before, but which are nevertheless related through their connection to certain aspects of criminal law policy connecting to medical views of human nature.
1. The Return of Lombroso? Ethical and Philosophical Aspects of (Visions of) Forensic Screening
Italian nineteenth century criminologist Cesare Lombroso is notorious
for his seminal ideas about criminality and anti-social behaviour
resulting from physiological anomalies that should be
detected by society and used for forensic preventive purposes. After
an extended period of disrepute following World War II, similar ideas
have been resurrected in psychiatry, genetics, neurology and criminology
in the past decade or two. In particular, there is a growing focus on
early detection and application of preventive measures. This development
actualizes a complex
web of ethics and policy issues having to do with the well-known fact that screening and prevention in the health area are
far from ethically clear-cut activities and actualize vivid
prospects of doing extensive harm to individuals as well as society.
Also, taken to its extreme, it actualizes the idea of using prenatal or
preimplantation testing to preselect against children with
a predisposition for criminal or antisocial behaviour. In the
forensic case, such screening-prevention strategies will connect further
to a complicated issue about the proper use of risk-assessment models
for societal decision-making for precautionary purposes. Based on former
work in all of these areas, this presentation
will outline and analyze the basic issue of the defensibility of
activities of this sort, with the perspective of forestalling
unintentional harm to individuals and society.
2. Hate Crime, Mental Disorder and Criminal Responsibility
Hate crimes are ordinary crimes committed in connection with a
negatively prejudiced, biased, disparaging, or antagonistic attitude
towards the victim in terms of a perceived membership of a social group.
Some hate crimes are elaborate political acts of terror or elaborate
persecution, some are so-called “hate speech”, but the overwhelming
majority are instances of mundane criminality, involving everything from
murder to theft and harassment. Hate crime policies rest on the idea
that the bias or “hate”feature make such crimes worse, and that
offenders for this reason should be held more firmly responsible. At the
same time, the attitude of making a crime into a hate crime involves
more or less distorted ideas about reality, together with a willingness
to transgress social norms on that basis. In some cases, these views
amount to major delusions, resistant to rational scrutiny. In other
cases, we may move closer to a point where the belief-desire cluster can
be seen as ordinary negligence. Thus, many hate crimes have features
that may be argued acting to diminish responsibility according to
standard ideas in the philosophy of punishment. The presentation maps
underlying value conflicts, tensions, and incoherence in legal practice
connected to this complexity of criminal law.
Enjoy for what it's worth!