At The Best Schools (December 15, 2011),
Eagleman then goes on to his no-free-will views on penal reform. He provides a number of odd examples of people committing murder in “automatic” states. But his reasoning from that occasional fact to the idea that no one is ever really responsible feels very slippery. Most cases going through the criminal courts feature non-psychopaths who perhaps considered their alleged crime a risk worth taking. If neuroscience cannot deal with that fact, so much the worse for neuroscience. It is ultimately a moral issue that cannot be reduced to trivia and special cases.
He goes on to argue that the legal system can dispense with free will because “… we may be able to think about bad decision making in the same way we think about any other physical process, such as diabetes or lung disease.” Can we? Is getting an unsettling diagnosis the same thing, qualitatively, as getting booked for drunk driving?
The reader soon wades from one confusion to the next. More