AJOB Neuroscience.

Neurointerventions: Punishment, Mental Integrity, and Intentions

In their interesting article, Birks and Buyx discuss the moral permissibility of using mandatory (nonconsensual) neurointerventions as an alternative to incarceration, for at least some people convicted of crimes. Neurointerventions are “interventions that exert a physical, chemical or biological effect on the brain in order to diminish the likelihood of some forms of criminal offending” (Douglas and Birks 2018, 1, as quoted in Bikes and Buyx 2018, 133). For example, a sex offender might be given testosterone-lowering drugs. The authors argue that mandatory neurointerventions are pro tanto wrong, because they involve an intentional interference with the offender’s non-disvaluable mental states. They do not argue that such neurointerventions are always conclusively (all things considered) morally wrong. They allow that sometimes there may be positive pro tanto considerations that override this pro tantoimpermissibility (e.g., the presence of additional benefits, or the absence of certain costs).

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Volume 18, Issue 3
September 2018