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Sfida al principio di imputazione. Una conversazione con Philip Zimbardo


"Are we born free or do we become free?" is the core question of this essay: a conversation between the author and Philip Zimbardo, the social psychologist who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most classical and debated experiment in social sciences. Zimbardo explored the so-called psychology of evil, isolating a number of situational factors that can induce the most abject actions in most human beings. The fact that murderers can be produced in the laboratory poses an insidious challenge to the classical categories of criminal law, in particular the assumption that imputability rests on the free will. The author compares her interlocutor's assertions with a number of legal philosophical theses and in particular with Kelsen's considerations on the link between the principle of imputation and freedom. It is thus ascertained that there is a profound mismatch between Zimbardo and his colleagues' conclusions and the way contemporary law treats such interrelated notions as responsibility, guilt and imputability. The author wonders, then, what role freedom could play in a legal system that wanted to take the results of experimental social psychology seriously. She comes to the conclusion that freedom should be taken out of the list of natural rights and should rather be seen as a duty or a regulatory ideal for which training is needed.