Uehiro Lectures 2010 - Lecture 2: Professor Masaki Ichinose, "Modes of Responsibility: Freedom, Responsibility, and Natural Phenomena"

Past Event

22 November 2010, 1:30pm - 3:30pm

Faculty of Philosophy
Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG

In these lectures, I will discuss criminal responsibility from a philosophical point of view (including some Japanese perspectives). I will scrutinize these issues by distinguishing three perspectives on criminal responsibility, namely, that of the “victim”, “offender”, and “punishment”. My aim in discussing the issue of victims is to raise and analyse a question of who constitutes a victim, particularly in the case of homicide. This question is examined by confronting a contemporary problem in the metaphysics of death, that is, whether dead people could suffer harm or not. Secondly, I will investigate how to estimate, as far as is scientifically possible, how responsible an offender is for their offence. This problem would be tackled by considering the notion of mens rea, taking into account the contemporary debates on free will and neuroethics. In considering this issue, I intend to adopt a probabilistic approach and propose concepts of “degrees of freedom and responsibility”. Thirdly, I will discuss the new and traditional problem of how to justify a system of punishment. In particular, my focus here is upon the issue of capital punishment and the concept of restorative justice (notwithstanding the fact that capital punishment has been abolished in the UK). My approach to this issue might be called “impossibilism” rather than retentionism or abolitionism. These three topics which I will consider roughly correspond to three basic modal concepts, namely, “actuality”, “possibility”, and “necessity (i.e. normativity)” respectively, so I have called these lectures “Modes of Responsibility”.

Freedom, Responsibility, and Natural Phenomena
In this lecture I will examine an aspect of the traditional problem of freedom and responsibility by taking a biological point of view into account, in order to aim at clarifying criminal responsibility. First, I will raise two of my strategies in confronting the issue of freedom and responsibility, namely, making the distinction of tenses and introducing the notion of degrees. Then, I will examine two proposals concerning freedom and responsibility from viewpoints of life science, i.e. Libet’s experiments and criminal genes. Finally, I will try to apply my strategies to those proposals. What I want to highlight is how intrinsically uncertain criminal responsibility is.

Masaki Ichinose is a Professor at The University of Tokyo. His main research interests are causation, probability, and the concept of person. Publications include in 1997, „The Rise of Person-Knowledge Theory: The Moment of John Locke? published by The University of Tokyo Press (in Japanese) and in 2001, The Labyrinth of Cause and Effect? published by Keiso publishing company (in Japanese) and in 2006, „The Labyrinth of Cause and Reason: The Philosophy of "Because"? published by Keiso publishing company (in Japanese). In 1998 he won the Watsuji Tetsuro Prize of Culture and the Nakamura Hajime Prize.

All welcome, no booking required. For further information, email nicholas.iles@philosophy.ox.ac.uk