Project RAD

Project “Responding to Antisocial Personalities in a Democratic Society” (RAD)

This is a temporary web site for the project RAD that is funded by the Croatian Science Foundation (the contract is on the way (It has been signed, praise be the fruit!)).The permament link to the project web site is here.

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Project summary

The proposed research project will investigate the ethical issues raised by translating scientific advances in the study of antisocial personalities to the social practices of a democratic society. The aim is to interface the most remarkable results of current science of antisocial behaviour with a normative framework that should underpin ethical recommendations on the treatment, intervention, enhancement and prevention that target offenders and other individuals with these disorders.

Two general and pressing theoretical challenges will be at the core of the proposed investigation. One is the problem of interfacing the normative notion of a person and her cognitive and decision-making faculties with scientific conceptions of those faculties. The normative notion of a person is spelled out in philosophical and legal accounts of criminal and moral responsibility that presuppose having capacities for rational decision-making and autonomy. The other is the problem of articulating a normative framework for applying to two interrelated normative tasks. First, this framework must inform the justification of a notion of the normative person that, being not hostage to metaphysically contestable views, is acceptable within a pluralistic democratic society. Second, it would guide our practical resolutions about how to respond to individuals with antisocial personalities that is viable in a pluralistic democratic society.

Addressing these theoretical challenges requires an interdisciplinary research team. The philosophers in the research team will draw upon the methods and results of empirically informed analytic philosophy of mind and of psychiatry, ethics and philosophy of politics. The expert of the neuropsychology of antisocial disorders in the research team will advise on the state of the art within his discipline and will enable the other members of the research team to use accurate interpretations of its more technical results.

The research will focus on the following research questions: 1. What are the most significant, robust and ethically relevant scientific advancements in the study of cognitive and affective (in)capacities of individuals with antisocial personality disorders and their treatment? (Investigation of the relevant science). 2. What is the preferable method of justification for articulating a practically relevant notion of normative person within a democratic and pluralistic society and for advancing prescriptions relevant for the ethical debates on punishment, preventive diagnosis, and enhancement, modification or treatment of individuals with antisocial personality disorders? (Investigation of the normative foundation). 3. What are the finer grained psychological affective and cognitive capacities of the relevant notion of a person (as, for instance the psychological capacities underpinning autonomy, control, moral understanding, rationality, capacity for consent, etc.) that we can recommend, based on our answers to 2., as relevant features of agents as members of a pluralistic democratic society and whether and how are they affected by antisocial personality disorders? (Investigation of the interface problem). 4. What do the results and hypotheses individuated in answering research questions 1., 2., and 3. tell us about the ethical issues raised by the application of current and forthcoming scientific knowledge to the categorisation, prediction, and modification of the criminal and antisocial behaviours of individuals with antisocial personality disorders? (Investigation of the ethical issues).

The expected research results are a series of published interconnected scientific papers, at least 13, that will individuate, precisely formulate, and investigate practically and scientifically delimited problems in ethics, philosophy of politics, philosophy of mind and psychiatry with the aim at offering a fundamental contribution to central contemporary debates on the social response to individuals with antisocial personality disorders.

The project will support the early career development of a doctoral student and a postdoctoral researcher. The interdisciplinary nature of the cutting edge philosophical debates addressed by the proposed research requires investigations at the intersection of different philosophical disciplines and current science. Working with or being supervised by the senior team members, who are all nationally and internationally active experts, will offer to the two junior team members the valuable opportunity to develop their knowledge and research capacities within a coherent philosophical and scientifically informed background.

Project team

Name and surname Title Organisation
Elvio Baccarini Prof Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka,
Inti Brazil Dr Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behaviour
Marko Jurjako Dr Department of Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka
Luca Malatesti, project leader Prof Department of Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka
John McMillan Prof Department of Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka
Doctoral student Department of Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka
Postoc (will be chosen in the second year of the project) Department of Philosophy Faculty of Humanities and social sciences in Rijeka