Crime, Punishment, And Disease

Overview

In Crime, Punishment and Disease, Antony Flew makes clear both the meaning and the implications carried by the application of the expression "mental disease." He aims to discourage its use in conditions that provide the victims of such diseases with an excuse for failing to perform what would have been their imperative duties had they enjoyed good mental health. Flew attacks the gross over-extensions of the notion of mental disease on both sides of the Atlantic. He defends human dignity and responsibility against...

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Overview

In Crime, Punishment and Disease, Antony Flew makes clear both the meaning and the implications carried by the application of the expression "mental disease." He aims to discourage its use in conditions that provide the victims of such diseases with an excuse for failing to perform what would have been their imperative duties had they enjoyed good mental health. Flew attacks the gross over-extensions of the notion of mental disease on both sides of the Atlantic. He defends human dignity and responsibility against the suggestion that we are all, or most of us, "sick, sick, sick." In particular, he challenges the paternalist pretensions of people who claim a right to control and manipulate others because they are allegedly sick, and consequently not responsible for what they do.

In a typical ordinary disease, Flew notes, it is the patient who complains of the disease rather than someone else who complains about the patient. But those who claim that some crime or all crime is symptomatic of mental disease and those who identify disorders such as attention/deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as conditions requiring psychiatric attention are taking the disfavored behavior rather than the distress of their patients as the warrant for supposedly medical interventions. They should instead first consider how what they propose to call mental disease does, and does not, resemble syphilis, measles, and other communicable diseases.

Flew sees his work as complementary to Thomas Szasz's. He applies a philosophical perspective to problems Szasz discusses as a psychiatrist. This work will be of particular interest to students of philosophy and politics, in that it relates modern discussion of mental illness to the Plato of The Republic. Flew also takes note in this context of Samuel Butler's Erewhon. This work will be of direct relevance to criminologists, as well as those interested in social welfare, philosophy of education, and new developments in psychiatry.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Flew (emeritus, philosophy, U. of Reading, UK), by criticizing legal arguments for the acceptance of judicial verdicts of "not guilty by reason of insanity," defends an expansive concept of free will from determinist criticisms. While admitting that there are times when it is obvious that an individual may not have control over his or her behavior, he argues that there has been an overextension of the use of the term "mental disease" in order to excuse behaviors by individuals that h ad a fundamental ability to determine right and wrong. Originally published in 1973 as (The Macmillan Press Ltd.). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765807717
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/15/2007
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Antony Flew was emeritus professor of philosophy in the University of Reading, England. He also served as visiting professor in institutions in North America, Africa, and Australia. He published much on many different philosophical questions, especially those of interest both to academic philosophers and to a wider public.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition vii
Editor's Foreword xxiii
Preface xxv
I A Survey of the Logical Geography 1
II Disease and Mental Disease 26
III Determinist Presuppositions Cannot Disprove 95
Notes 117
Bibliography 133
Index of Personal Names 137
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