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Article
Addiction Postulates and Legal Causation, or Who's in Charge, Person or Brain?
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (2013)
  • David L Wallace
Abstract
In this article, I address the persistent confusion over the meaning of a medical diagnosis of drug addiction or substance dependence in the courtroom, specifically in regard to legal judgments about the reasonable legal person, causation, and individual responsibility in civil actions. Using the example of the Engle tobacco litigation in Florida, where the plaintiffs have reduced mind to brain and claimed that the clinical status of addiction excuses or mitigates the smoker’s responsibility for the health consequences of smoking based on brain processes, I examine the conceptual difficulties presented by use of biomedical models of behavior in a legal system predicated on different assumptions altogether. For legal purposes, the biological system in question is the human organism as a whole, not a brain per se, and there is a functional identity between a smoker and his motivational states for purposes of responsibility attribution.
Keywords
  • addiction,
  • capacity,
  • agency,
  • causation
Disciplines
Publication Date
March, 2013
Citation Information
David L Wallace. "Addiction Postulates and Legal Causation, or Who's in Charge, Person or Brain?" Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Vol. 41 (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_wallace1/1/