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Should neurotechnological treatments offered to offenders always be in their best interests?
  1. Thomas Søbirk Petersen
  1. Correspondence to Professor Thomas Søbirk Petersen, Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University, Universitetsvej 1, Roskilde DK-4000, Denmark; Thomassp{at}


The paper critically discusses the moral view that neurotechnological behavioural treatment for criminal offenders should only be offered if it is in their best interests. First, I show that it is difficult to apply and assess the notion of the offender's best interests unless one has a clear idea of what ‘best interests’ means. Second, I argue that if one accepts that harmful punishment of offenders has a place in the criminal justice system, it seems inconsistent not to accept the practice of offering offenders treatment even when the state will harm them in applying the treatment. Finally, leading penal theories like consequentialists and retributivists would not accept that the offender's best interests, at least in certain situations, impose a necessary condition for the treatment of an offender.

  • Neuroethics
  • Prisoners
  • Psychopharmacology

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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