Neurobiological and behavioural genetic research gives rise to speculations about potential biomedical interventions to prevent, contain, or treat violent and antisocial behaviour. These developments have stirred considerable ethical debate on the prospects, threats, and limitations of integrating neurobiological and behavioural genetic interventions in forensic psychiatric practices, yet little is known about how forensic practitioners perceive these potential interventions. We conducted a qualitative study to examine (i) the extent to which forensic practitioners expect that effective biomedical interventions will be developed and integrated in their daily work practice and (ii) their normative views concerning those potential biomedically informed interventions. We focused on potential biomedical possibilities to lower aggression, the possible usage of neuroimaging in assessing legal responsibility, and the potential use of biomarkers in assessing risk for future violent and antisocial behaviour. Forensic practitioners expect novel biomedical interventions to be developed and display a general openness towards them. At the same time, they express concern that the integration of neurobiological and behavioural genetic elements in explanatory models of violence and antisocial behaviour may lead to misinterpretations, especially when implemented in the forensic field.

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Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine

Specker, J., Focquaert, F., Sterckx, S., & Schermer, M. (2017). Forensic practitioners’ expectations and moral views regarding neurobiological interventions in offenders with mental disorders. BioSocieties, 1–18. doi:10.1057/s41292-017-0069-9