βαθμολογία: 4 από 5 αστέρια
Ένα ανατρεπτικό βιβλίο για την έννοια της ελεύθερης βούλησης. Είναι τελικά πραγματικότητα ή μια ψευδαίσθηση;
Ένα χαρακτηριστικό απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο:
Consider the following examples of human violence:
1. A four-year-old boy was playing with his father’s gun and killed a young woman. The gun had been kept loaded and unsecured in a dresser drawer.
2. A 12-year-old boy who had been the victim of continual physical and emotional abuse took his father’s gun and intentionally shot and killed a young woman because she was teasing him.
3. A 25-year-old man who had been the victim of continual abuse as a child intentionally shot and killed his girlfriend because she left him for another man.
4. A 25-year-old man who had been raised by wonderful parents and never abused intentionally shot and killed a young woman he had never met “just for the fun of it.”
5. A 25-year-old man who had been raised by wonderful parents and never abused intentionally shot and killed a young woman he had never met “just for the fun of it.” An MRI of the man’s brain revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball in his medial prefrontal cortex (a region responsible for the control of emotion and behavioral impulses).
In each case a young woman died, and in each case her death was the result of events arising in the brain of another human being. But the degree of moral outrage we feel depends on the background conditions described in each case. We suspect that a four-year-old child cannot truly kill someone one on purpose and that the intentions of a 12-year-old do not run as deep as those of an adult. In cases 1 and 2, we know that the brain of the killer has not fully matured and that not all the responsibilities of personhood have yet been conferred. The history of abuse and the precipitating circumstance in case 3 seem to mitigate the man’s guilt: This was a crime of passion committed by a person who had himself suffered at the hands of others. In 4 there has been no abuse, and the motive brands the perpetrator a psychopath. Case 5 involves the same psychopathic behavior and motive, but a brain tumor somehow changes the moral calculus entirely: Given its location, it seems to divest the killer of all responsibility for his crime. And it works this miracle even if the man’s subjective experience was identical to that of the psychopath in case 4—for the moment we understand that his feelings had a physical cause, a brain tumor, we cannot help seeing him as a victim of his own biology.
How can we make sense of these gradations of moral responsibility when brains and their background influences are in every case, and to exactly the same degree, the real cause of a woman’s death?