Do criminals have 'free will' or are their actions pre-determined?
Not in a God-like sense, but in a scientific sense. Do you think we (or criminals) have total free will, or are our actions pre-determined by biology and psychology, or do we have a certain amount of free will right when it comes to making a choice between two things? Are some people pre-disposed to criminal behaviour through brain chemistry, childhood or hormones? Should these people be held fully accountable for their actions?
No such thing as free will. We're all at the mercy of our biology and how the environment interacts with it. Stimulus - response. Every ''conscious'' decision you make has already been determined before you are even aware, brain scans prove this. Anyone who doesn't believe me - read Free Will by Sam Harris (it's more an essay than a book, so not that long). He discusses this issue in depth. And no I don't believe that just because one's actions are predetermined means that they aren't accountable / punishable. But the emphasis of the criminal justice system should be on rehabilitation rather than retribution - depending on the case, since some people are truly a lost cause and can never be rehabilitated. Ideally rehabilitation should emphasise prevention and should start in early childhood. Delinquency could be circumvented if poverty and truancy among other things were dealt with. People who are full fledged sociopaths - they're born that way, and can't be rehabilitated. But I believe a sociopath born in an ideal environment will at least turn out less violent than one born into poverty / neglected / abused etc. But they'll still be manipulative, conniving and won't give a damn about anyone, no matter what.
What definition of murder do you find accountable, though?
One could argue that defending yourself is not really the same as cold blooded murder.
Self-defense is justifiable homicide so I don't think that counts, although it would be interesting to see if those who do kill in self-defense are more likely to kill anyway. But obviously there's no way to compare that to people who didn't defend themselves, lol.
I agree with Antidote, I feel like free will is an illusion and we are a product of our biology and environment, so criminals should be rehabilitated as much as possible instead of just punished for the sake of it.