Genes, Electrotransmitters, and Free Will P. S. Greenspan, D. Wasserman and R. Wachbroit (eds.), Genetics and Criminal Behavior: Methods, Meanings, and Morals (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)


Current genetic accounts of behavioral traits such as "aggressive impulsivity" in cases of criminal behavior explain them in terms of electrotransmitter deficit. Though important to keep clear from the standard philosophic problem of free will versus determinism, there does seem to be a kind of psychological unfreedom at issue in such cases. The appropriate model is not motivational conflict, but rather volitional disability. The cases still can be made out as liable to blame, understood as a complex of moral reactive attitudes. The result is responsibility without free will (even on retributivist and compatibilist interpretations of the two notions).


1. This abstract mainly covers the introduction and section III of the paper, which can be read independently. For an alternate introduction, intended for a less specialized audience, see Free Will and Genetic Determinism: Locating the Problem.