I state in my profile that we need to turn our ideas on their heads to gain understanding.
So what did I make of this report of a man who strangled his wife in her sleep? His charge of murder was dropped, but I would be surprised if he is not now charged with manslaughter.
But behind the headlines there is an interesting tale about responsibility. We humans are extremely susceptible to external influence. Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment showed many years ago how our rational decision making capabilities can be heavily influenced by our interactions with others. We seem to obey authority figures, and we are known to also conform to group behaviours.
Economists generally assume people behave in a perfectly rational way, and that decisions are made independently. Legal practice certainly seems to take decisions as personal and independent. But we only can make these decisions based on our past education and experiences – past external factors.
But just as we still believe that people are responsible for the decisions and behaviour, even though these arise from past external factors, we should believe that a sleepwalker is responsible for their actions.