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Problema anuario de filosofía y teoría del derecho

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7937versión impresa ISSN 2007-4387


RUDY HILLER, Fernando Efraín. Sciences of the Mind and Legal Responsibility: Two Challenges. Probl. anu. filos. teor. derecho [online]. 2021, n.15, pp.169-221.  Epub 31-Mayo-2022. ISSN 2448-7937.

This paper examines the impact of the sciences of mind and behavior on the concept and practice of legal responsibility, particularly on criminal law. There are two opposite positions on this issue: on the one hand, there are those who think that empirical sciences already show that (moral and legal) responsibility is illusory and thus conclude that existing legal systems must be radically revised. On the other, there are those who think that since responsibility practices are essentially regulatory ones, they are basically resistant to scientific discoveries about human conduct. Against both positions, I argue that although these discoveries may not show that the common-sense psychology on which criminal law rests is fundamentally misguided, they are not irrelevant for assessing it either. To illustrate my position I draw upon findings from situationist social psychology and in particular on the “Bystander Effect,” according to which the mere presence of several persons during an emergency lowers their propensity to help, regardless of their particular personality traits and moral attitudes. Finally, I explain the importance this discovery has for legal purposes, focusing on so-called Good Samaritan Laws that impose penal sanctions on those who fail to help others in emergency.

Palabras llave : Legal Responsibility; Folk Psychology; Social Psychology; Rational Capacities; Good Samaritan Laws.

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