Missouri Executes Convicted Cop Killer Who Is Missing Part Of His Brain

Missouri Executes Convicted Cop Killer Who Is Missing Part Of His Brain – http://huff.to/1GTU9Qe

It’s an interesting philosophical issue.  Right side frontal lobe damage is notoriously associated with psychopathic behaviour.

The issue is that this is not merely a case of an accident, it’s about identity.  The change is not something being done to the person he was before the accident.  The person he was before the accident is gone and not coming back.  The person he now is did commit that crime.

Also,  psychopaths that are not known to have had a brain injury also have reduced right frontal lobe function.  In some cases that may be due to unknown brain damage, but it could also be genetic, caused by viral damage, a childhood high fever, internal birth defect, vitamin deficiency, whatever.

Can the fact that we discover a specific physical cause for behaviour diminish culpability?  Because there will always be a physical cause for personality traits whether we’ve found it yet or not.  The physical basis for you isn’t something being done to you, it is you. Maybe it could have been different but it isn’t.

Lead contamination is notoriously associated with violence.  If somebody lived near a freeway while gas was still leaded, should that reduce culpability?

The way out of the confusion is to go utilitarian, in a pragmatic rather than philosophical way. 

Once guilt is found, let the punishment fit the long term goal of a just society.

The cause really isn’t relevant to that discussion.  It may be relevant to other discussions like workers safety and medicine but it’s unhelpful for criminal justice.

Capital punishment should be stopped in that context, because it’s off message.  It sends the message that it’s ok to cause a death that is completely unnecessary if you think the target really, really deserves it.

With that message bombarded daily no wonder Americans kill each other at ten times the rate of the rest of the civilized world.  It’s like an endless subliminal message in favor of murder.


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