SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Do Criminal Offenders Have a Right to Neurorehabilitation?
(Ethics, )

A Neurointerventions - interventions exerting direct physical, chemical or biological effects on the brain - are sometimes administered to criminal offenders for the purpose of reducing their recidivism risk and promoting their rehabilitation more generally. Ethical debate on such "neurocorrectives" has proceeded on two assumptions: that public protection is the chief motivator for their use, and permissibility depends on whether their use unjustifiably infringes offender rights. Scant attention has been paid to a different yet important question: whether offenders have a right to be offered neurocorrectives promising to facilitate their rehabilitation. This paper asks this question and answers affirmatively. I argue offenders have a right to be offered safe, effective neurorehabilitation and my argument is two-fold. I first contend arguments supporting a moral and legal right to conventional rehabilitation extend to support a right to neurorehabilitation. I further argue a right to neurorehabilitation (in the case of some offenders) is a derivative right of the right to health. The structure is as follows. Section 1 outlines three oft-cited grounds of a right to rehabilitation: a) as compensation for the debilitating effects of punishment; b) as a derivative right of the right to hope for renewed liberty; c) and as compensation for systemic injustice. I argue these also support a right to neurorehabilitation: that neurocorrection might sometimes be appropriate and necessary for recompensing offenders and preserving the right to genuine hope. Section 2 argues a right to neurorehabilitation can sometimes be derived from the right to health. I posit that some existing and candidate neurocorrectives plausibly restore mental and physical health; and if we accept that people have a right to access healthcare they require, then a right to neurorehabilitation might sometimes follow from this. Section 3 addresses two potential objections. The first disputes whether a right to rehabilitation includes a right to mere symptomatic relief of one's problems (as might be promised in neurorehabilitation). The second contends neurorehabilitation is a bad option - to the extent that it might undermine offenders' self-respect and make them feel obliged to submit to it - and as such it should not be afforded the protection of a right.

Chair: Jon Rueda
Time: 16:00-16:30, 11 September 2021 (Saturday)
Location: SR 1.004
Remark: (Online Talk)

Emma Dore-Horgan  
(University of Oxford, )



Testability and Meaning deco