Moving away from retributive justice

There are two articles dealing with this topic recently, or at least that I am aware of. One is a look at how incorrect brain functioning can contribute to criminality and the other is a criticism of a paper on free will. The take-home message is this: our actions are determined by the physical workings of our brains.

This causes a problem for free will in that it can’t be free. If we accept that our actions are determined by our brain and our brain functions according to physics and chemistry, the direction in which all evidence points, then we can’t really choose, at least we can only make one choice no matter how it feels to us. This is because everything that happens in our brain depends on the state it was in the moment before and so on. There is no way to make a choice that wasn’t already predetermined. In short there is no free will. Continue reading