I was discussing nutrition on another board and I mentioned some studies that show when proper nutrition (essential fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, iron, protein, etc) is given to people their rates of violent crime go down by 25-50%. Some people got angry because they feel that that is excusing people from personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility in that sense seems like circular logic. People who are in favor of personal responsibility say that if you blame other factors (environment, genetics, personal experiences, biochemistry) then you are letting the individual off the hook for their own choices. But this is based on the assumption that the individual is in control, which if the individual isn’t then personal responsibility isn’t that important anyway. in order for personal responsibility to be a valid argument, personal responsibility has to be a valid argument (ie, it is a good thing because if you don’t do it, people won’t control their lives). Circular logic. I agree taking initiative is a good thing, but some people almost seek to absolve all factors in life other than personal responsibility to determine how people act. Chemical castration, according to this article lowers recidivism from 75% to 2% in sex offenders.
“Depo-Provera also reduces recidivism rates. When used as a mandatory condition of parole (6), chemical castration decreases the occurrence of repeat offenses from 75% to 2%”
Before the introduction of antipsychotics therapy alone didn’t accomplish much to lower the rates of those hospitalized for severe schizophrenia, and when working medical treatments for obesity come out obesity rates will drop dramatically until it is an abnormality on earth.
By ‘in control’ I mean accepting that other factors aside from willpower play a role in how we end up. The people eating proper diets probably do not consciously make a decision to act less violently, but that seems to be what they end up doing. Just as the people whose genetics predispose them to being happy all the time do not choose that, but that is where they end up.
Is it just that as a society we don’t like the idea that our thoughts and actions are due to tangible biology instead of psychology? Is that why there is so much resistance to these ideas in some parts? Do people just not like the idea that their views and feelings are a collection of chemicals and not some etherical metaphysical thing? Is that where resistance comes from?
If anyone here strongly supports personal responsibility, do you support it in the sense that you feel a person’s willpower is the most important factor in how they act, or do you feel that their willpower leading to non-willpower based solutions is just as good? Ie, is a potential sex offender who takes responsibility for his situation and decides to manipulate his inner hormonal system to lower his risk of offending an acceptable form of personal responsibility? What about a depressed person who takes the initiative to get chemical help for depression or (someday in the future) gene therapy? Is it the taking the initiative to change that is important or using willpower and willpower alone that is important?