Could Tsarnaev Argue, ‘My Immature, Pot-Impaired Brain Made Me Do It’?

A forensic psychiatrist examines the possibility that alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could try to fend off the death penalty by pointing to neuroscience on the immaturity of teen brains and the effects of marijuana use, but concludes that what will matter most is his behavior, not his brain.


All decisions made by all humans are made by their brains. Hitler’s brain did cause what he did. So did Alexander the great’s, so did Marco Polo’s, so does the average baker’s who goes to work everyday, so did the brain of those who went to the marathon and were killed or injured. So will do the brain of the jury and the judge that will decide on his verdict. Additionally, did all pot-heads blow-up random people? 

At first glance, it may seem that relying on "pot-induced brain malfunction" could be  a weak defense argument in this case. But a very interesting point, at least for the future of judicial system, comes up. Let’s assume that there is a day in which we could recognize mis-wiring/malfunction of the cognitive system, yet still, the "justice" implemented by the society will aim to first eliminate further dangers toward the society by that criminal, and if possible, to give criminals a chance to recover and be part of the society again. Cases like this fall into a weird zone. If, let’s say, there is someone whose ideology is in clash with a given society, and has carried out dangerous acts, the society’s judicial system eliminates their physical presence in the society (currently the options are imprisonment or execution in certain states, some cases). But these choices are only valid because we yet do not have the tools to fix a malfunctioning brains (i.e. source of the ideology in clash with the norms of the society). However, at some point in future, there will be tools to erase memory, induce new ones, re-wire the malfunctioning brain and etc. Should we do it? Is it even moral to overwrite ones memory/beliefs to subdue them?  to what degree, a society is allowed to force-shape the mind of the criminal? that is a very deep philosophical issue worth thinking.

See on Scoop.itNeurovium: Neuroscience at the intersection of Philosophy, Computation, Biology & Physics


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s