Andrea Lavazza is an Italian philosopher interested in problems of moral and legal responsibility and the suitability of punishment. He is a research fellow at Centro Universitario Internazionale (Arezzo, Italy). Lavazza is one of the founders of "Italian Neuroethics Society" and a pioneer scholar in this new discipline.). He is also editor of Contemporary Dualism: A Defence, Routledge (forthcoming). With his colleagues Mario De Caro and Giuseppe Sartori, he wrote the 2010 book Siamo Davvero Liberi? (Are We Really Free?) which examines the impact of neuroscience on the question of free will, especially the related question of moral responsibility. In his essay "If we are not free, can we be punished?," Lavazza (and co-author Luca Sammicheli), notes that some neuroscientists advocate changing the laws (e.g., Joshua Greene and Jonathan Cohen, the Churchlands, Daniel Wegner) and lawyers continue to use neuroscientific arguments in defense of their clients. It is a challenge to defend the standard conditions of responsibility, guilt, and punishment that form the basis of the law and the common sense attitudes of the public. Lavazza and Sammicheli say "It is argued that it is foolish to punish someone who, given their brain configuration, could not have wanted to commit the crime he has committed; Today, however, many researchers are convinced that human beings always find themselves in such a condition of determination and lack of autonomy." They wonder therefore whether it is time to completely abandon the concept of retributive punishment, in favor of simple safety measures for those we do not have reasons to define as an offender, but only as a socially dangerous individual. This thesis, which naturally opens some controversial scenarios, is not hard to imagine becoming customary in classroom discussions of justice.
ReferencesOperationalizing and Measuring (a Kind of) Free Will (and Responsibility).
Towards a New Framework for Psychology, Ethics, and Law Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It A Pragmatic and Empirical Approach to Free Will