Taking Stock

I have so many balls in the air this summer I’m having trouble keeping my projects organized. I thought it might help to publicly take stock of my commitments.

Let me begin with the papers or chapters that are for the most part completed:

  1. I’ve already reviewed page proofs for a forthcoming chapter titled “Unconscious Mens Rea: Responsibility for lapses and minimally conscious states.”  The chapter is in the book Law and Neuroscience: Philosophical Foundations, edited by the fabulous law and philosophy scholars Dennis Patterson and Mike Pardo, and will be published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 2016. My chapter argues that cases of negligent criminal harm indicate that Neil Levy’s theory that moral responsibility requires synchronic conscious awareness of the moral significance of an act is too strict. I also claim that tracing conditions cannot be successfully used to bolster Levy’s account.

    You can find the introduction to the book here, and pre-order the book here. It really is a fabulous book, with chapters by very important scholars (not sure how I got in there!): S. Morse, M. Moore, N. Farahany, A. Kolher, G. Yaffe, D. Denno, F. Schauer, and D. Fox and A. Stein — and of course, Dennis and Mike.

  2. I’m currently reviewing page proofs of a substantial revamp of my encyclopedia entry on Neuroethics, to appear in the 3rd edition of the Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (edited by V.S. Ramachandran). Elsevier is calling this version a “research module,” which I think means it is to appear online with connections to other related entries and content. (If you want a hard copy, it will only cost you about $1,000!)
  3. I have submitted final drafts of two further book chapters. One is titled “Chemical Castration and other Direct Brain Interventions as Rehabilitative Treatment” for a book edited by N. Vincent called Neuro-Interventions and the Law. The book is scheduled to come out from OUP sometime in 2017. I’ve also written a chapter called  “Legal Insanity and Executive Function” with Bill Hirstein and Ty Fagan for a Palgrave Macmillan series on interdisciplinary understandings of legal insanity. The book is edited by Mark White, and is also scheduled for a 2017 release.


Now on to projects in progress.

1. Bill Hirstein, Tyler Fagan and I have completed three chapters of our book and sent them out to MIT for review. The book has been re-titled The Responsible Brain. (It was originally called The Guilty Brain.) We initially sent just the first chapter and a page or two of short chapter summaries to MIT for review. Reviewer comments were mixed (some very good, one not very good), which led to a substantial re-thinking of the project, and a new title for the book. I’m very happy with three chapters we re-submitted, and hope to hear good news from MIT soon.

2. I have signed a contract to co-write a law review article for the Louisiana Law Review on the use of domestic drones to gather intelligence by law enforcement. My co-author, Robert Brice, is a Wittgenstein scholar interested in using a philosophical standard to certainty to critique drone use. The topic is pretty far outside my wheelhouse, but I think my role in the project is primarily legal research, so it should be alright.

3.  I’ve also agreed to update my position on reduction and criminal responsibility and write a chapter on the topic for a book edited by Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov (published by CUP). The book is titled Neurolaw and Responsibility for Action: Concepts, Crimes and Courts. It has been a while since I have thought about reduction and responsibility, but it is a good topic. The chapter is due to Behinn this December.

4. I’ve spent the last month researching blame and desert to write a paper to present at the Justice Without Retribution network conference in Ghent in February 2017. I’ve read works in progress kindly sent to me by Manuel Vargas, Dana Nelkin, and David Shoemaker on the topic. I have to say that desert is the hardest problem I have encountered in philosophy — to my mind, harder than the mind/body problem! — and I’m making very slow progress. But it is great fun to read very provocative work by very smart philosophers, and I think an argument is beginning to take shape. I’m hoping to cast responsibility skepticism as a radical eliminativist project, and make a weak realist claim for desert. Both David Shoemaker and Manuel Vargas have arguments that seem to touch upon the function of the concept of desert that I intend to use, and Dana Nelkin’s notion of “fittingness” has been very helpful.

5. At some point in late 2016 I will begin thinking about a chapter I have agreed to write for Gregg Caruso’s massive Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy project. My chapter will discuss pretrial policies in the criminal justice system. As a former government criminal justice research analyst, I have very strong opinions about the injustices created by the impacts of these policies. I’d love to do some of my research for this chapter in the field at the Cook County Courthouse at 26th and California in Chicago via interviews with police, prosecutors, and criminal defenders.

6. Finally, I have had an paper on virtue theory and punishment simmering on the back burner for almost a year now; I hope to put in on the front burner during academic year 2016-2017. I’m also up for promotion to full professor this upcoming fall, so I hope I don’t forget to write my promotion portfolio!


My very best to all the summer scholars trying to ignore the sunshine and the call of early cocktail hour to get some writing done!



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