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The Relevancy of Diminished Responsibility

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The Relevancy of Diminished Responsibility

Diminished Responsibility (In the USA it is called Diminished
Capacity) is used to reduce the charge of Murder to Manslaughter thus
allowing the judge more discretion in sentencing. To many the idea of
a person having diminished responsibility to a crime is a problem at
an emotional and rational level : after all we often do not agree what
the mind is !

Some see the defence as a conspiracy of the legal and medical
professions to release increasingly guilty offenders into the
community and that this conspiracy is driven by money and socialists.
Victims and their relatives certainly take a dim view of the mental
defences and see society in terms of becoming increasingly lawless and
heading for Armageddon . Philosophers and theologians point out that
we really know very little about anything, and what is truth anyway ?

Moore in Act and crime discusses the connection of Volition and Act
and whether in fact volitions are an essential source of action . " If
however, volition is taken to refer to a faculty of will that as an
object causes bodily movements, then we must think that person
possesses a kind of unique causal power." 1 That is, is there a sort
of desire or wish? However there is the problem of whether volition is
an active state in the mind or whether it is a mental state, like a
thought , that just comes to one. Moore puts it as "Volitions are
simply the last executors both of our more general intentions and of
the background states of desire and belief that those more general
intentions themselves execute." 2 . This does not consider the
connections between the object of the v...

... middle of paper ...

...rsation with Dr John Mendenhall, MD ( via e-mail )
Psychiatric Association of Great Falls 2800 11th Ave South #23 Great
Falls, MT 59404

8 Victorian Law Reform Commission (Australia) , Report No 34

9 Draft of the Criminal law Consolidation ( Mental Impairment )
Amendment Bill (No 1) 1994 . South Australian State Government .

10 Ibid No 53

11 CampbellD T , " Mental Health Law: Institutionalised Discrimination
" Australian and New ZealandJournal of Psychiatry 1994 ,Vol 28, No 4

12 Roseman S, "Mental Health Law : an idea whose time has passed "
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1994 Vol 28, No4 P

13 Weinstock R , " Retention of Imperfect Self- Defense In California
Diminished Capacity despite Elimination of Diminished Capacty "
Newsletter AAPL , Vol 19 No3 , December 1994 p57

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