My genes made me do it—the problem of genetic evidence and diminished culpability

Is he really guilty if he had a genetic predisposition towards impulsive behaviour? Credit: Shutterstock There have been recent high-profile claims suggesting genetics and neuroscience are set to radically change the way we think about crime and punishment. Author Sam Harris, for example, argues that recent discoveries in neuroscience undermine our notion of free will, while Adrian Raine states there is a “biological basis also to recidivistic violent offending”. But are our notions of blame and responsibility really heading for a revolution? To answer that, it’s necessary to understand a bit about how the law works today. Legal guilt typically requires more than just a physical act. It usually also relies on the concept of mens rea or “guilty mind”. You may have struck someone, for example, but if you…


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