Projects in the first half of 2020

My first project of 2020 is nearing completion: I just sent in page proofs for a chapter on chemical castration in a fantastic OUP volume edited by Nicole Vincent and Thomas Nadelhoffer. My paper is titled “Chemical Castration and other Direct Brain Interventions as Rehabilitative Treatment,” and the book is titled Neuro-Interventions and the Law. A summary of the volume can be found here. Please email me if you are interested in reading the penultimate version.

Currently, I’m finishing up a chapter on neuroethics with Elmhurst College cognitive scientist Joshua VanArsdall. The chapter will appear in a graduate textbook called Mind, Cognition, and Neuroscience: A Philosophical Introduction (B. Young and C. Dicey Jennings, eds., Routledge). It has been super fun to write, especially with a psychology-type person.

In January I will also be revamping a paper I wrote with Anneli Jefferson on moral agency and autism. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the paper is our exploration of the way in which the rigid rule-following common in persons with autism can sometimes hinder, but also strengthen, moral reasoning and judgment. We claim persons with autism are pro-social in part because they are sensitive to a moral audience. We note their problems with theory of mind can cut both ways with regard to moral judgment: Persons with autism may not know about mental states important to a moral judgment, leading to moral error; but their insensitivity to other’s mental states may help them pursue worthy moral outcomes despite the discomfort or even discouragement of others.

Next, I plan to turn a talk I gave recently at Columbia on genetics and criminal responsibility (focusing mostly on the MAO-A gene) into a paper. I’m planning to compare genetic claims of excuse with the roundly rejected “rotten social background” excuse. I claim both types of excuse fail under the current system of generating criminal verdicts in the same way; and I hope to gesture toward a path of partially accommodating both types of excuse in light of Brink and Nelkin’s “fair opportunity” theory.

Finally, I am awaiting editors’ comments on a book chapter called “Why do symptoms related to a mental disorder legally excuse (but symptoms related to rotten social background do not)?” I wrote the chapter for a volume titled Agency, Responsibility, & Mental Disorder: Exploring the Connections, which is under contract with OUP, (Matt King & Joshua May, Eds.). And, in late spring I will begin work on a paper tentatively titled  “How is criminal punishment forward-looking?” for a special edition of The Monist on forward-looking moral responsibility (A. Jefferson and P. Robichard, eds).



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