Addiction postulates and legal causation, or who’s in charge, person or brain?

David L Wallace has published an article in the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law addressing the persistent confusion over the meaning of a medical diagnosis of drug addiction or substance dependence in the courtroom, specifically in regard to legal judgments about the reasonable legal person, causation, and individual responsibility in civil actions. Using the example of the Engle tobacco litigation in Florida, where the plaintiffs have reduced mind to brain and claimed that the clinical status of addiction excuses or mitigates the smoker’s responsibility for the health consequences of smoking based on brain processes, he examines the conceptual difficulties presented by use of biomedical models of behaviour in a legal system predicated on different assumptions altogether. Continue reading