Bankman-Fried’s mom argued that ‘the philosophy of personal responsibility has ruined criminal justice and economic policy’
The mother of Sam Bankman-Fried, the beleaguered founder and former CEO of the now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, is a Stanford Law professor who penned a 2013 essay arguing that it is time for Americans to ditch the “philosophy of personal responsibility.”
Barbara Fried, who just resigned from the Democratic super PAC Mind the Gap as the board of directors chairperson, penned a 2013 essay in the Boston Review titled, “Beyond Blame,” which argued in favor of harm-reduction policies like rehabilitation over incarceration.
“The philosophy of personal responsibility has ruined criminal justice and economic policy,” Fried wrote at the time. “It’s time to move past blame.”
“Public reactions to wrongdoing have been studied most extensively in the context of crime,” she wrote. “Researchers have found that peoples’ evaluations of serious wrongfulness vary significantly across social conditions and individuals. Tellingly, the more information people have about the context of the crime, the person who committed it, and the circumstances he or she came from, the more nuanced are their views of moral responsibility.”
“The fact that we alter our judgments of blameworthiness as we acquire greater knowledge of the person and the context in which she acted should put to rest any thought that our blaming practices are naturally immutable, or even recalcitrant,” she continued.
Fried argued that harm-reduction policies are “not to coddle criminals, or to deny their accountability or volitional capacities. It is to reduce future harm at a tolerable cost to all of us, wrongdoers included, by influencing wrongdoers’ future choices through rehabilitation, more carefully calibrated deterrence, and, when necessary, isolation from society.”
Fried concluded that “we have gotten nothing from our 40-year blame fest except the guilty pleasure of reproaching others for acts that, but for the grace of God, or luck, or social or biological forces, we might well have committed ourselves.”
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