2 Criminal Law and Multiple Personality Disorder: Vexing Problems of Personhood and Responsibility
This article, written by the philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and the psychiatrist Stephen Behnke, aims primarily to challenge the argument that Saks pursued in Section II of her article (see above). It does so through appeal to certain experiential memories shared between alters. The beginning of the article provides a concise and informative summary both of Sak's position and of the different jurisprudential standards we have been exploring in this playlist. However, the essential material only really begins in Section IV (p. 282), so if you are strapped for time, start there and read through the end (p. 296).
What do you think about the article's appeal to experiential memories shared between alters as a means of establishing their identity? Is it a problem that, as the authors admit, this kind of criterion will be extremely difficult to investigate? What's more, have Armstrong and Behnke really shown all they need to show? For example, they claim that in the Grimsley case, both Robin and Jennifer presumably have a memory of being told about the lump in the body's breast. Suppose we grant this conclusion. Does it follow that each alter has the same memory? After all, Armstrong and Behnke accept the possibility of co-consciousness between the alters. As we saw early in the playlist, in the description of the relationship between John Wood's alters, different alters may perceive events quite differently. Indeed, they seem to do in the manner that different people do — namely, in relationship to their own projects, concerns, relationships, etc. Does this pose a problem for Armstrong and Behnke? If so, what do you think would be their strongest response? Finally, suppose we grant to Armstrong and Behnke that alters are parts of the same person, and not separate people as Saks claims. Have they given sufficient due to Saks' arguments that even so understood, multiples would still be non-responsible? Armstrong and Behnke only address that question in the last paragraph of the essay, in which they embrace the Grimsley court's standard. Look closely at this paragraph. Is it persuasive?