07 April 2011

What Is Mind Control And Why Should We Care?

The blog "Science Not Fiction" has an interesting post on whether mood influencing drugs are a form of mind control.  The original post argues that they are not.  In a length comment, I argue that the distinction is not as clear as the author of the post suggests.

Drugs can influence decision making to the same extent as variety of other factors from money to threats of violence.

The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate ways of influencing someone's decision making is one that is relevant to a wide array of legal issues because voluntariness in decision making is a key legal issue in wide variety of legal contexts from substantive criminal law issues like consent as a defense to rape charges, to the criminal procedure issue of the admissibility of a confession or validity of a plea bargin, to trusts and estates law, to health care law, to contract law, and more.

In these bodies of law, some kinds of decision influencing factors are considered to be legitimate, while others are seen as making consent ineffectual and amounting to duress or undue influence or fraud.

Rather than asking whether drugs constitute mind control, we should instead ask "when is it legitimate to use drugs to influence a person's decision making process?"

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