As a strict philosophical materialist, I am convinced that there are no such things as moral offenses caused by an offender. I say this because there is no free will and so we cannot pin blame on “offenders” for their behavior. They have not chosen to act this way.
Well, I have to disagree. Social science researchers claiming that brain activity preceded an observed behavior by participants never——never——study this in the context of morals. In every case, the researchers measure such activity as button-pushing: Does the brain activity occur before a person pushes a button or does the person first decide to push the button and then it is registered in the brain? Button-pushing has nothing whatsoever to do with moral decisions. Would you claim that the person who executed little girls in the Amish community of Pennsylvania in 2006 “just couldn’t help it”? Could he not help it when he lined them up? Did his brain make him pull the trigger and some cause outside of him lead to what the executioner’s weapon was to be? Had he lived, would you advocate no court trial?
When it comes to morals and the claim that people have no free will, you have to be careful that your view of humanity does not degenerate. I say that because your view leads to the ultimate conclusion that no person who acts monstrously ever can be rehabilitated other than through some kind of yet undiscovered brain surgery. Surely some who act monstrously might have a brain lesion, but that would be the rare case, what Aristotle would call an Accident. Why do I say this? It is because many times (far too many) a young and very physically-healthy person has committed acts of unspeakable brutality. Thus, the Aristotelian Accidents do not account for the entire story explaining monstrous behavior. Free will, then, leading to self-chosen acts, seems to fit better such moral examples as occurred in the Amish community.