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Morse, Mind, and Mental Causation

Pardo, Michael S. and Patterson, Dennis (2014) Morse, Mind, and Mental Causation Criminal Law and Philosophy, 11 (1). pp. 111-126.

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Stephen Morse’s illuminating scholarship on law and neuroscience relies on a “folk psychological” account of human behavior in order to defend the law’s foundations for ascribing legal responsibility. The heart of Morse’s account is the notion of “mental state causation,” in which mental states (e.g., beliefs, desires, and intentions) cause behavior. Morse argues that causation of this sort is necessary to support legal responsibility. We challenge this claim. First, we discuss problems with the conception of mental causation on which Morse appears to rely. Second, we present an alternative account to explain the link between mental states, reasons, and actions (the “rational–teleological” account). We argue that the alternative account avoids the conceptual problems that arise for Morse’s conception of mental causation and that it also undergirds ascriptions of legal responsibility. If the alternative succeeds, then Morse’s conception of “mental state causation” is not necessary to support legal responsibility.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Pardo, Michael S.
Date : 22 July 2014
DOI : 10.1007/s11572-014-9327-0
Copyright Disclaimer : © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
Uncontrolled Keywords : Folk psychology Mental states Reasons Human action Explanation Causation
Depositing User : Karen Garland
Date Deposited : 07 Dec 2017 14:37
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 19:05

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