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6 Free will and criminal responsibility
  1. Quinton Deeley
  1. Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer in Social Behaviour and Neurodevelopment at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IOPPN), King’s College London


Dr Deeley MA, MRCPsych, PhD, is an honorary consultant psychiatrist in the National Autism Unit, Adult ADHD Service, and Behavioural Genetics and Autism Assessment Clinic. He is also senior lecturer in social behaviour and neurodevelopment at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. He is approved under section 12 (2) of the 1983 Mental Health Act. Dr Deeley has wide experience of general adult and developmental psychiatry, having worked with patients across a range of settings, including secure hospital care, ‘step down’ open rehabilitation wards, supported living, and outpatient services. Dr Deeley specialises in the assessment and management of autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disability, and common mental health conditions. Dr Deeley holds a BA in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge. He went on to complete medical training at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals before training in psychiatry on the Maudsley Hospital training scheme. He has a PhD in the cognitive neuroscience of autism and psychopathy. He is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Abstract Notions of criminal responsibility presuppose that a person can be held morally and legally accountable for acts which are freely chosen. Philosophical accounts of free will – of intended actions under individual control – provide a framework for analysing the components of freely chosen actions. Philosophers have explored the notion of free will in light of causal determinism, examining whether or how a person ‘could have done otherwise’ in specific circumstances such that they can be considered truly responsible for their actions. In this talk we consider these philosophical analyses and their relevance for neuropsychiatric assessment of offenders. In so doing we will also explore how evolving neuropsychiatric insights into the control of behaviour, and its impairment in specific disorders, has implications both for philosophical accounts of free will and notions of criminal responsibility.

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