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The Emotional Brain and the Guilty Mind

Novel Paradigms of Culpability and Punishment

By: Federica Coppola
Media of The Emotional Brain and the Guilty Mind
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Published: 11-02-2021
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 264
ISBN: 9781509934294
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £65.00
Online price : £58.50
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Loren Epson

About The Emotional Brain and the Guilty Mind

This book seeks to reframe the normative narrative of the 'culpable person' in American criminal law through a more humanising lens. It embraces such a reframed narrative to revise the criteria of the current voluntarist architecture of culpability and to advance a paradigm of punishment that positions social rehabilitation as its core principle.

The book constructs this narrative by considering behavioural and neuroscientific insights into the functions of emotions, and socio-environmental factors within moral behaviour in social settings. Hence, it suggests culpability notions that reflect a more contextualised view of human conduct, and argues that such revised notions are better suited to the principle of personal guilt. Furthermore, it suggests a model of 'punishment' that values the dynamic power of change of individuals, and acknowledges the importance of social relationships and positive environments to foster patterns of social (re)integration.

Ultimately, this book argues that the potential adoption of the proposed models of culpability and punishment, which view people through a more comprehensive lens, may be a key factor for turning criminal justice into a less punitive, more inclusionary and non-stigmatising system.

Table Of Contents

1. The Rationalist Soul of Culpability: An Analysis of the Guilty Mind
I. Introduction
II. The 'Broad' Nature of Culpability
III. Autonomy and Rationality: Framing the Model of the 'Person' in Criminal Law
IV. The Voluntarist Architecture of Culpability: Choice, Capacity, and Fair Opportunity
V. Voluntarism and Legal Doctrine
A. Mental Capacity and Excuses: Legal Insanity
B. Fair Opportunity and Excuses: Duress
VI. Voluntarism, Emotions, and Socio-Environmental Factors
A. A Mechanistic Conception of Emotions
i. Emotions and the Law of Homicide
ii. Emotional Incapacity and Legal Insanity
B. The Irrelevance of the Social Environment
VII. Emotions and Socio-environmental Factors in Sentencing
VIII. Conclusion
2. From the Guilty Mind to the Punished Person: Criminal Culpability through the 'Evolution' of Punishment
I. Introduction
II. Rational Individualism and the Enlightenment
III. Between Libertarian and Scientific Individualism
IV. The Rise and Fall of Treatmentist Rehabilitation: From Penal Modernism to the Model Penal Code
V. Voluntarism and the Resurgence of Retribution
VI. Backlashes
A. Harsh Punitiveness
B. Social Exclusion and Stigmatisation
VII. Conclusion
3. Critiques of the Model of the 'Person' in Culpability and Punishment
I. Introduction
II. A Th in Account of Human Agency
A. A Flawed Conception of Emotions
B. The (Political) Exclusion of the Social Context
III. A Static View of the Culpable Person
IV. Dehumanisation
V. Conclusion
4. Emotions, the Social Environment, and the Brain
I. Introduction
II. The Emotional Brain
A. Definition(s) of Emotions
B. Modern Theories of Emotions: The Emotion/Cognition Ambiguous Divide
C. From Emotion Generation to Emotion Regulation: Insights from Neuroscience
D. Emotion and Decision-making
III. Emotions, Empathy, and Moral Behaviour
A. Social/Moral Emotions
B. Empathy
C. The Neuromoral Network
D. Emotions, Morality, and Self-regulation
IV. From the Emotional Brain to the Social Brain: How the Social Environment Becomes Embedded and Informs
Social Behaviour
V. Emotional Plasticity, Social Connections, and Positive Behavioural Change
VI. The Pain of Social Exclusion
VII. Conclusion
5. Holistic and Situated Culpability
I. Introduction
II. Autonomy and Rationality as Multidimensional Concepts: Reframing the 'Person' in Criminal Law
III. Holistic and Situated Culpability: Revising the Architecture of the Current Paradigm
A. Normative Competence
B. Situational Control
C. Situational Control and the Role of Context: Situating the Fair Opportunity to do Otherwise
IV. Implications for Legal Doctrine
A. Legal Insanity
i. Moral Capacity Test
ii. Control Capacity Test
B. Diminished Opportunity, Diminished Culpability: A Re-interpretation of Stephen Morse's Proposed
'Generic Partial Excuse' Doctrine
V. Holistic and Situated Culpability, and the Personal Guilt Principle
VI. Conclusion
6. Social Rehabilitation
I. Introduction
II. Dynamic Personhood
III. Social Rehabilitation: Theory, Pillars, and Normative Value
A. Definition and Distinguishing Features
B. Social Rehabilitation, Dynamic Personhood, and Crime Desistance
C. Social Rehabilitation, Human Dignity, and the (Neuro)Science of Change
D. Social Rehabilitation and Other Justifications for Punishment
i. Retribution
ii. Incapacitation
iii. Special Deterrence
E. Social Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice
IV. Practical Corollaries
A. Humanising Sentencing
B. Banning Mandatory Life Sentences
C. Transforming Incarceration
D. Abolishing (or Profoundly Reforming) Solitary Confinement
V. Conclusion


“This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in criminal law and neuroscience. Coppola's agenda for reformulating criminal responsibility and punishment is as compelling as it is controversial. The book is a must read.” –  Dennis M Patterson, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School, USA

“With lucid prose and a comprehensive grasp of multiple literatures, Coppola deftly weaves behavioral and neuroscientific insights into longstanding debates about crime and punishment. What emerges is a compelling tapestry of suggested reforms that have the potential to transform notions of culpability, sentencing determinations, and the experience and ramifications of punishment. This powerful and provocative masterwork is a must-read for anyone interested in criminal justice theory or reform.” –  Lea Johnston, Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law, USA

“This timely and groundbreaking book uses empirical evidence from social psychology and neuroscience to argue that our understanding of criminal offenders is cartoonishly emaciated. It is not just our rationality that makes us responsible agents, Coppola claims, but also our social and emotional skills, our relationships, and our environment. Coppola convincingly argues that if we hold a robust, holistic view of offenders we are required to make radical changes to our responsibility and punishment practices. This excellent book is required reading for philosophers and lawyers interested in responsibility, as well as anyone impacted by the criminal justice system - that is, everyone.” –  Katrina L Sifferd, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Elmhurst University, USA

“Federica Coppola is a sophisticated, careful analyst of the relation of the new neuroscience and it shows in The Emotional Brain and the Guilty Mind. The book sets forth a bold and controversial argument that will challenge and instruct readers. It is a must for those interested in the relation of science to law generally and neuroscience to law in particular.” –  Stephen J Morse, Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, USA

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