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Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2021

Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article was presented at “Guilty Minds: A Virtual Conference on Mens Rea and Criminal Justice Reform” at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It is forthcoming in Arizona State Law Journal Volume 53, Issue 2.

The thesis of this article 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. It is also desirable. Nonetheless, we are in a condition of unprecedented internal ...


Against The Received Wisdom: Why Should The Criminal Justice System Give Kids A Break?, Stephen J. Morse Jul 2019

Against The Received Wisdom: Why Should The Criminal Justice System Give Kids A Break?, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Professor Gideon Yaffe’s recent, intricately argued book, The Age of Culpability: Children and the Nature of Criminal Responsibility, argues against the nearly uniform position in both law and scholarship that the criminal justice system should give juveniles a break not because on average they have different capacities relevant to responsibility than adults, but because juveniles have little say about the criminal law, primarily because they do not have a vote. For Professor Yaffe, age has political rather than behavioral significance. The book has many excellent general analyses about responsibility, but all are in aid of the central thesis about ...


Mental Disorder And Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2018

Mental Disorder And Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper is a chapter that will appear in REFORMING CRIMINAL JUSTICE: A REPORT OF THE ACADEMY FOR JUSTICE BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN SCHOLARSHIP AND REFORM (Erik Luna ed., Academy for Justice 2018). The criminal law treats some people with severe mental disorders doctrinally and practically differently at virtually every stage of the criminal justice process, beginning with potential incompetence to stand trial and ending with the question of competence to be executed, and such people have special needs when they are in the system. This chapter begins by exploring the fundamental mental health information necessary to make informed judgements ...


How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner Feb 2017

How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?

A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults ...


Addiction, Choice And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2017

Addiction, Choice And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter is a contribution to a volume, Addiction and Choice, edited by Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal that is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Some claim that addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease; others claim that it is a product of choice; yet others think that addictions have both disease and choice aspects. Which of these views holds sway in a particular domain enormously influences how that domain treats addictions. With limited exceptions, Anglo-American criminal law has implicitly adopted the choice model and a corresponding approach to responsibility. Addiction is irrelevant to the criteria for the prima ...


Neuroethics: Neurolaw, Stephen J. Morse Sep 2016

Neuroethics: Neurolaw, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a pre-copyedited version of a chapter in the Oxford Handbooks Online (Philosophy) edited by Sandy Goldberg. In altered form, it was published online in February, 2017 and can be found at the Oxford Handbooks Online website. The entry discusses whether the findings of the new neuroscience based largely on functional brain imaging raise new normative questions and entail normative conclusions for ethical and legal theory and practice. After reviewing the source of optimism about neuroscientific contributions and the current scientific status of neuroscience, it addresses a radical challenge neuroscience allegedly presents: whether neuroscience proves persons do not have ...


Law And The Sciences Of The Brain/Mind, Stephen J. Morse Apr 2016

Law And The Sciences Of The Brain/Mind, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter is a submission to the Oxford Handbook of Law and the Regulation of Technology edited by Roger Brownsword. It considers whether the new sciences of the brain/mind, especially neuroscience and behavioral genetics, are likely to transform the law’s traditional concepts of the person, agency and responsibility. The chapter begins with a brief speculation about why so many people think these sciences will transform the law. After reviewing the law’s concepts, misguided challenges to them, and the achievements of the new sciences, the chapter confronts the claim that these sciences prove that we are really not ...


Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague Jan 2016

Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria.

We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those ...


Separation Of Powers Legitimacy: An Empirical Inquiry Into Norms About Executive Power, Cary Coglianese, Kristin Firth Jan 2016

Separation Of Powers Legitimacy: An Empirical Inquiry Into Norms About Executive Power, Cary Coglianese, Kristin Firth

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The continuing debate over the President’s directive authority is but one of the many separation-of-powers issues that have confronted courts, scholars, government officials, and the public in recent years. The Supreme Court, for instance, has considered whether the President possesses the power to make appointments of agency heads without Senate confirmation during certain congressional recesses. The Court has passed judgment recently, but has yet to resolve fully, questions about Congress’s authority to constrain the President’s power to remove the heads of administrative agencies. And the Court has considered the limits on Congress’s ability to delegate legislative ...


The Effect Of Mental Illness Under U.S. Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2014

The Effect Of Mental Illness Under U.S. Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper reviews the various ways in which an offender's mental illness can have an effect on liability and offense grading under American criminal law. The 52 American jurisdictions have adopted a variety of different formulations of the insanity defense. A similar diversity of views is seen in the way in which different states deal with mental illness that negates an offense culpability requirement, a bare majority of which limit a defendant's ability to introduce mental illness for this purpose. Finally, the modern successor of the common law provocation mitigation allows, in its new breadth, certain forms of ...


Abolition Of The Insanity Defense Violates Due Process, Stephen J. Morse, Richard J. Bonnie Jan 2013

Abolition Of The Insanity Defense Violates Due Process, Stephen J. Morse, Richard J. Bonnie

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article, which is based on and expands on an amicus brief the authors submitted to the United States Supreme Court, first provides the moral argument in favor of the insanity defense. It considers and rejects the most important moral counterargument and suggests that jurisdictions have considerable leeway in deciding what test best meets their legal and moral policies. The article then discusses why the two primary alternatives to the insanity defense, the negation of mens rea and considering mental disorder at sentencing, are insufficient to achieve the goal of responding justly to severely mentally disordered offenders. The last section ...


Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Apr 2011

Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mental disorder among criminal defendants affects every stage of the criminal justice process, from investigational issues to competence to be executed. As in all other areas of mental health law, at least some people with mental disorders, are treated specially. The underlying thesis of this Article is that people with mental disorder should, as far as is practicable and consistent with justice, be treated just like everyone else. In some areas, the law is relatively sensible and just. In others, too often the opposite is true and the laws sweep too broadly. I believe, however, that special rules to deal ...


Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2011

Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter in, Gene-Environment Interactions in Developmental Psychopathology (K. Dodge & M. Rutter, eds. 2011), considers the relevance of GxE to criminal responsibility and sentencing. It begins with a number of preliminary assumptions that will inform the analysis. It then turns to the law’s view of the person, including the law’s implicit psychology, and the criteria for criminal responsibility. A few false starts or distractions about responsibility are disposed of briefly. With this necessary background in place, the chapter then turns specifically to the relation between GxE and criminal responsibility. It suggests that GxE causes of criminal behavior have ...


Neuroscience And The Future Of Personhood And Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2011

Neuroscience And The Future Of Personhood And Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a chapter in a book, Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, edited by Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes and published by Brookings. It considers whether likely advances in neuroscience will fundamentally alter our conceptions of human agency, of what it means to be a person, and of responsibility for action. I argue that neuroscience poses no such radical threat now and in the immediate future and it is unlikely ever to pose such a threat unless it or other sciences decisively resolve the mind-body problem. I suggest that until that happens, neuroscience might contribute to the reform ...


Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2010

Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The rapid expansion in neuroscientific research fuelled by the advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] has been accompanied by popular and scholarly commentary suggesting that neuroscience may substantially alter, and perhaps will even revolutionize, both law and morality. This essay, a contribution to, Law and Neuroscience (M. Freeman, Ed. 2011), will attempt to put such claims in perspective and to consider how properly to think about the relation between law and neuroscience. The overarching thesis is that neuroscience may indeed make some contributions to legal doctrine, practice and theory, but such contributions will be few and modest for the ...


The Uneasy Entente Between Insanity And Mens Rea: Beyond Clark V. Arizona, Stephen J. Morse, Morris B. Hoffman Jan 2007

The Uneasy Entente Between Insanity And Mens Rea: Beyond Clark V. Arizona, Stephen J. Morse, Morris B. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

There is uneasy tension in the criminal law between the doctrines of mens rea and the defense of legal insanity. Last term, the Supreme Court addressed both these issues, but failed to clarify the relation between them. Using a wide range of interdisciplinary materials, this article discusses the broad doctrinal, theoretical, and normative issues concerning responsibility that arise in this context. We clarify the meaning of mental disorder, mens rea and legal insanity, the justification for and the relation between the latter two, and the relation among all three. Next we consider the reasoning in Clark, and for the most ...