Abstract: Therapeutic justice has increasingly gained in appeal and momentum in the past few decades. Given the number of persons in prison with various forms of mental illness and substance abuse problems, therapeutic justice seeks to bridge rights and care perspectives by providing therapeutic interventions as an alternative to incarceration as a way of addressing the underlying cause of criminal behaviour. However, as advances in neuroscience increasingly show neurobiological causation of behaviour (particularly anti-social behaviour), we can reasonably expect that the scope of therapeutic justice will expand. Importantly, a key aspect of therapeutic justice is that this option is voluntary. This work queries the limits of therapeutic justice and proposes boundaries grounded in rights theory, neurobiology, and concepts from theory of mind. Finally, I show how this proposal is able to distinguish between permissible and impermissible forms of voluntary therapeutic interventions within the context of therapeutic justice.
Dr Robin Pierce received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Health Policy, Ethics and her J.D. (Juris Doctor) from the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. Dr. Pierce’s major areas of interest are in the legal, ethical, and social implications of advances in genetics and neuroscience, particularly regarding neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric illness. She is affiliated with Dalhousie University and is currently an Academic Visitor at the Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics at the University of Oxford. She has published across disciplines in such journals as The Lancet, Social Science and Medicine, American Journal of Bioethics, and The Indiana International and Comparative Law Review.