Internal and External Challenges to Culpability
Stephen J. Morse
Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law
Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry
Associate Director, Center for Neuroscience and Society
University of Pennsylvania
The thesis of this chapter is simple: As long as we maintain the current folk psychological conception of ourselves as intentional and potentially rational creatures, as people and not simply as machines, mental states will inevitably remain central to ascriptions of culpability and responsibility more generally. Not only will this continuity be inevitable, it is also desirable. Nonetheless, we are in a condition of unprecedented internal challenges to the importance of mental states in the context of mental abnormalities and of external challenges more generally to personhood and agency based on the new behavioral neuroscience and genetics. The latter challengers argue that the central role the criminal law gives to mental states is deeply misguided.