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Unread February 28th, 2010, 12:32 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Arrow Geo Will on the DSM V

Great piece!

"Today's DSM defines 'oppositional defiant disorder' as a pattern of "negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures." Symptoms include "often loses temper," "often deliberately annoys people" or "is often touchy." DSM omits this symptom: 'is a teenager.'...

"If every character blemish or emotional turbulence is a 'disorder' akin to a physical disability, legal accommodations are mandatory. Under federal law, 'disabilities' include any 'mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities'; 'mental impairments"'include 'emotional or mental illness.' So there might be a legal entitlement to be a jerk. (See above, 'antisocial personality disorder.') ...

"James Q. Wilson, America's pre-eminent social scientist, has noted how 'abuse excuse' threatens the legal system and society's moral equilibrium. Writing in National Affairs quarterly ('The Future of Blame'), Wilson notes that genetics and neuroscience seem to suggest that self-control is more attenuated -- perhaps to the vanishing point -- than our legal and ethical traditions assume.

"The part of the brain that stimulates anger and aggression is larger in men than in women, and the part that restrains anger is smaller in men than in women. 'Men,' Wilson writes, 'by no choice of their own, are far more prone to violence and far less capable of self-restraint than women.' That does not, however, absolve violent men of blame. As Wilson says, biology and environment interact. And the social environment includes moral assumptions, sometimes codified in law, concerning expectations about our duty to desire what we ought to desire.

"It is scientifically sensible to say that all behavior is in some sense caused. But a society that thinks scientific determinism renders personal responsibility a chimera must consider it absurd not only to condemn depravity but also to praise nobility. Such moral derangement can flow from exaggerated notions of what science teaches, or can teach, about the biological and environmental roots of behavior."

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determinism, free will, morality, punishment

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