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Freewill and the Twinkie(c) Defense

Freewill and the Twinkie Defense: When a person is arrested for allegedly committing a crime, two questions need to be answered. First, did the person actually commit the crime in question? Second, should the person be held accountable for committing the crime? This second question rests on the presupposition that a person is only legally responsible for their actions if the person is capable of making free choices. Thus, young children are most often not held to the same legal standards as adults because they lack the fully developed reasoning capabilities of adults. People who are insane are likewise not held to the same standards since they are not in rational control of their thoughts and actions. Certainly most accused criminals are not young children and not insane, but are these the only two excuses from legal culpability? While there are those philosophers who argue on the basis of determinism that none of us are capable of making free choices and, thus, none of us should be held legally accountable for our actions, few people accept this extreme position. In our modern courtrooms, judges and jurors are left to themselves to decide whether or not a defendant should be held accountable for her actions. Use the Web links below to explore some of the more ‘colorful’ excuses defense attorneys have used to argue for their clients acquittal. Where and how should we draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate excuses?

The Twinkies Made Me Do It!

Man Asserts ProzacŪ Defense at Bombing Trial

The Crocodile Dundee Defense 

Diminished Capacity Defense: Academic Site

Defense in Shepard case to argue diminished capacity

Index of Diminished Capacity Defenses from Court TV

 


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