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Posts Tagged ‘law and mind sciences’

Harvard Law School Mind Science Events This Week

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 4, 2012

1. “Life at the Top: Evidence on Elite Leaders and Stress Hormone Secretion”
Jennifer Lerner, HKS
Monday, 3/5, 12 p.m.
Wasserstein 1023
Chinese food will be served!

Dr. Lerner’s presentation will address her latest research into the relationship between stress and leadership. Leadership is widely believed to be associated with elevated stress. But if leadership is coupled with a heightened sense of control-which is known to have stress-buffering effects-leadership should be associated with less stress. Using unique samples that included real global leaders, Dr. Lerner found that leaders had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than did non-leaders and that higher-level leaders had lower cortisol than lower-level leaders, due in part to differences in sense of control. She will discuss her methodology, findings, and the implications of her work.

Dr. Jennifer Lerner is Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as well as Director of the Harvard Laboratory for Decision Science. This inter-disciplinary laboratory, which she co-founded with two economists, draws primarily on psychology, economics, and neuroscience to study human judgment and decision-making.

2. Repair, Not Retribution: Restorative Justice and the Law
Wednesday, March 7, 7:30 – 9 p.m.
Wasserstein 1019
Free non-pizza dinner!

As U.S. prison populations continue to grow and neighborhoods, schools, families, and communities feel the lasting impacts of crime, the restorative justice movement offers alternative responses to crime by seeking to repair the harm done instead of demanding retribution. Restorative justice, which can work both with and outside of the criminal justice system, invites those who are most affected by crime to participate more directly in responding to it and working to make things as right as possible. This panel features several lawyers who work in the restorative justice field and is an excellent opportunity to learn about restorative justice and its relationship to the law, as well as several alternative career options for those interested in criminal justice.

Panelists:

Sujatha Baliga’s work is characterized by an equal dedication to victims and persons accused of crime. A former victim’s advocate and public defender, Sujatha was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship in 2008 which she used to spearhead a successful restorative juvenile diversion program in Alameda County. As the former Director of Community Justice Works, she expanded and institutionalized the program she began through her Soros Fellowship. Sujatha has served as a consultant to the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, has taught Restorative Justice to undergraduates and law students, and is a frequent guest lecturer at academic institutions and conferences. Today, as a Senior Program Specialist at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Sujatha assists communities in implementing restorative justice alternatives to juvenile detention and zero-tolerance school discipline policies. She is also provides technical assistance to the US Attorney General’s Task Force on Childhood Exposure to Violence.

Sujatha earned her A.B. from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She had federal clerkships with the Honorable William K. Sessions, III, former Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and with the Honorable Martha Vázquez.  An national voice in restorative justice, she was honored as Northeastern University Law School’s Daynard Fellow, and has been a guest on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Ora Schub of Chicago’s Community Justice for Youth Institute is known for her work on domestic violence, disability rights, Palestinian solidarity work and human rights. She was formerly a clinical law professor at the Northwestern University School of Law Children and Family Justice Center. Ora also worked as a program director at Access Living, Cook County deputy public guardian and criminal defense attorney. Ora has traveled throughout the United States, Ecuador and Brazil speaking and sharing ideas on restoratives justice and teen dating violence. She has participated in several human rights delegations to the West Bank, Gaza, Kuwait and Lebanon as part of the National Lawyer’s Guild and the National Conference of Black Lawyers delegations. She is a member of the Guild’s LGBT taskforce.

Moderator: Professor Dan Kahan

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Officer Selection – Harvard SALMS

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 22, 2012

SALMS is excited to announce the opening of 2012 Officer Selection process, and to prepare for the new year with a Board meeting on Friday, 1/27 at noon in Houser 101:

1. NEW OFFICER SELECTION: In the next few weeks, SALMS will begin a transition from its current officer class to the leadership that will direct SALMS into the New Year. Tentative Officer titles and descriptions for the 2012 year include:

i. President

- responsible for setting the vision and agenda of the organization, for delegating responsibilities to the SALMS officers and Board, and for collaborating with the Vice President to manage the daily operations of the organization (including managing logistics of Speakers Series events).

ii. Vice President and Treasurer

- responsible for managing the SALMS budget and collaborating with the president to manage the daily operations of the organization (including managing logistics of Speakers Series events).

iii. Speakers Chair

- responsible for organizing and overseeing the selection process for the SALMS Speakers Series, as well as managing invitations and coordinating with speakers.

iv. Communications / Technology Chair

- responsible for updating and running the SALMS website and blog and maintaining the SALMS email list.

1Ls interested in serving in these positions should email dkorn[at]jd13.law.harvard.edu to schedule a meeting (please include a copy of your resume, though no prior mind science background is required).

2. SPRING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING: At noon on Friday, January 27, 2012, in Hauser 101, the SALMS Board will meet to discuss the upcoming semester. In addition to dividing up responsibilities for the spring, we will look ahead to our scheduled Speakers Series events.

Posted in Education, Events, SALMS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Situationism at University of Chicago Law

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 1, 2011

Check out the exciting new student organization, LAMSA, at the University of Chicago Law School:

“LAMSA is the Law and Mind Sciences Association at the University of Chicago Law School. We’re a collection of students interested in incorporating insights from the mind sciences – and science in general – into the legal discourse.”

We are delighted to see this addition to another great law school community.  We look forward to following the LAMSA blog,  The Cosmic AC, and collaborating with LAMSA members in whatever ways we can to continue building a bridge between law and the mind sciences.

Posted in Events, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Fiery Cushman at Harvard law School – Video

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 8, 2010

From The Harvard Law Record (Sept. 2009):

On September 21st, Fiery Cushman, a newly-minted PhD recipient and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative, presented some of his recent research at an event titled “Outcome vs. Intent: Which Do We Punish, and Why?” Cushman’s work suggests that at a gut-level, people assess whether a behavior was morally right or wrong by looking at the actor’s intentions, but when assigning punishment, people are overwhelmingly interested in outcomes, even if an outcome was accidental.

Cushman described several experiments where he was able to look at a participant’s intentions in isolation from the actual outcome of the participant’s actions. In one case, participants were given the choice of dice that would later be rolled to assign rewards to a second, receiving party. When given the opportunity, the recipient would consistently punish more often when the dice produced less favorable rewards, even if the initial participant intended to provide rewards generously. This work has interesting implications for tort law, explaining in part why findings of negligence lead to large compensatory rewards even in the absence of any intentional action.

Below is the video of that fascinating talk.

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* * *

For a sample of related Situationist posts, “Law Students Flock to Situationism,” “Fiery Cushman at Harvard Law School,” Attributing Blame — from the Baseball Diamond to the War on Terror,” “John Darley on ‘Justice as Intuitions’ – Video,” “The Situation of Punishment in Schools,” Why We Punish,” “Kevin Jon Heller on The Cognitive Psychology of Mens Rea,” Mark Lanier visits Professor Jon Hanson’s Tort Class (web cast),” and “Situationist Torts – Abstract.”

Posted in Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

2010 Law and Mind Sciences Conference

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 14, 2010

The 2010 Conference on Law and Mind Sciences


“Moral Biology? How should developments in mind sciences and behavioral biology alter our understanding of law and morality?”

When: Thursday, April 15, 2010, at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Harvard Law School, Austin Hall, West Classroom

Free and Open to the Public

This panel discussion will examine how developments in evolutionary biology and the mind sciences should inform law, philosophy, and economics, focusing on subjects such as punishment, responsibility, racism, addiction, and cooperation. Participants will include:

  • I. Glenn Cohen
  • Joshua Greene
  • William Fitzpatrick
  • Adina Roskies
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
  • Thomas Scanlon

Co-sponsored by The Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, the Gruter Institute, the Harvard Program on Ethics and Health, and the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project.

More specifics regarding participants, materials, and the conference agenda can be found here.

Posted in Events, Legal Theory, Morality, Neuroscience, Situationist Contributors | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Law Students Flock to Situationism

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 22, 2009

SALMS Logo Small 2 for WebsiteHere is Anthony Kammer’s fine article, titled “Meeting of the Minds: Law Students Flock to Psychology Lectures,”  in the latest edition of The Harvard Law Record.

* * *

In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks described psychology as a field that was taking off among young people, who were interested in probing for more accurate answers to the mysteries of human behavior. That might help explain why audiences packed the lectures of two Harvard psychologists who presented their research at the law school this September. Both talks, sponsored by the Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS), raised intriguing questions about the way our psychological intuitions are formalized in the law.

On September 8th, Daniel Wegner,  author of The Illusion of Conscious Will, presented several recent studies that examine the mechanism by which individuals come to identify their own and others’ behavior as intentional during his talk “Psychological Studies of the Guilty Mind.”

Wegner’s experiments suggest that people involved in a common activity, such as using an ouija-board, are often unable to discern which actions they produced themselves and which were caused by someone else. He described several other studies in which people misidentify behaviors as their own.  It has been shown in cases of facilitated communication, for example, in which a therapist helps an autistic patient type out answers to a question, that the messages communicated actually originate from the therapist and not the autistic patient, although the therapist reports no awareness that he or she actually produced the responses. This work suggests that while people feel as if they are the authors of their choices, this process is an evolved sensation and not the most descriptively accurate account for our behaviors.

On September 21st, Fiery Cushman, a newly-minted PhD recipient and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative, presented some of his recent research at an event titled “Outcome vs. Intent: Which Do We Punish, and Why?” Cushman’s work suggests that at a gut-level, people assess whether a behavior was morally right or wrong by looking at the actor’s intentions, but when assigning punishment, people are overwhelmingly interested in outcomes, even if an outcome was accidental.

Cushman described several experiments where he was able to look at a participant’s intentions in isolation from the actual outcome of the participant’s actions. In one case, participants were given the choice of dice that would later be rolled to assign rewards to a second, receiving party. When given the opportunity, the recipient would consistently punish more often when the dice produced less favorable rewards, even if the initial participant intended to provide rewards generously. This work has interesting implications for tort law, explaining in part why findings of negligence lead to large compensatory rewards even in the absence of any intentional action.

As this article went to press, SALMS was planning further events, including an October 22nd, discussion by [Situationist Fellow] Goutam Jois ’07 entitled “Stare Decisis is Cognitive Error”.

Founded in the late spring of 2009, The Student Association for Law & Mind Sciences (SALMS) is the outgrowth of Professor [& Situationist Contributor] Jon Hanson’s Ideology, Psychology and Law seminar course as well as his Project on Law and Mind Sciences.  SALMS is the first student group at any law school merging law and mind and sciences and is already working with students at other law schools to create similar organizations around the country. Its speaker  series is intended to both introduce the legal community to relevant work in psychology and the related mind-sciences and to encourage mind scientists to explore the implications of their work for law and policy-making.

In recent years, the number of law review articles citing to prominent mind sciences research has skyrocketed, and  most top-tier law schools now  offer courses emphasizing relevant insights from social psychology and related fields.  In fact, the course descriptions of nine courses in the 2009-2010 HLS course catalog explicitly mention psychology. And in the wake of the recent financial crisis, economists and lawyers have turned increasingly to behavioral economics and social psychology to understand the underlying cognitive mechanisms that shape and influence our institutions. Psychology and neuroscience are increasingly informing and challenging some of the assumptions of the criminal justice system, and the mind science promise to help sharpen and clarify legal concepts.

In addition to co-sponsoring events with other HLS student groups, SALMS has already begun to forge close relationships with organizations across the University, including graduate and undergraduate students affiliated with the Harvard Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative.

The group is hoping to start a journal next fall to explore further interdisciplinary work in law and the mind sciences.  It would be the first academic journal of its kind in the world.

Posted in Education, Events, Law, Situationist Contributors | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 13, 2009

SALMS LogoWe are excited to share with our community of contributors and readers that the first law student organization that we know of promoting the law and mind sciences approach was recently approved at Harvard Law School.  Here is a brief description.

* * *

The Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is a student organization helping to bring to the Harvard Law School community the ground-breaking mind sciences research that has profound implications for law and policy-making.

Over the past decade, the number of law review articles citing to prominent mind sciences journals has skyrocketed while an increasing number of law schools have begun offering courses emphasizing relevant insights from social psychology and related fields.

SALMS hopes to provide a vibrant community of committed students who seek a more rigorous interdisciplinary approach to legal studies.  Working in conjunction with the scholars affiliated with the Harvard Project on Law and Mind Sciences, we intend to host speakers and collaborate with other organizations on campus to help fill a pronounced void in legal discourse.  Finally, we plan to reach out to other law schools and graduate departments in the region with the hope that our efforts will inspire likeminded students to embark on similar initiatives and collaborative projects.

SALMS will be hosting speakers throughout the 2009-2010 academic year and encourages you to get in touch with its leadership if you are interested in sharing your work.  Likewise, if you are an HLS student interested in getting involved, or a law student at another school and interested in launching a SALMS-like organization on your campus, the SALMS leadership would love to hear from you.  For more information, email the President of SALMS, Mike Rozensher, at salms@law.harvard.edu.

Posted in Education, Law, Legal Theory | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Conference – The Free Market Mindset

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 2, 2009

2009-conference-invitation-medium-draft1

Third Conference on Law and Mind Sciences

“The Free Market Mindset:

History, Psychology, and Consequences”

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tentative Schedule

8:45 – 9:15: Continental Breakfast
9:20 – 9:35: Opening Remarks (“The Free Market Mindset”)
9:40 – 11:00: Session 1

History:
•    9:40 – 10:05: Christine Desan, “Legal Categories of Thought”:
The law categorizes different kinds of liquidity — including coin, banknotes, bonds, dollars, and securities — in rich and various ways. The talk will suggest some of the ways that legal doctrine has disciplined our thought, including our assumptions about money and the way it is made, about public and private, and about free choice in the marketplace.

•    10:10 – 10:35: Bernard Harcourt, “Neoliberal Penality: The Birth of Natural Order, the Illusion of Free Markets”:
In the Encyclopédie in 1758, under the entry “Grains,” Francois Quesnay declared that “It is quite sufficient that the government simply not interfere with industry, suppress the prohibitions and prejudicial constraints on internal commerce and reciprocal external trade, abolish or diminish tolls and transport charges, and extinguish the privileges levied on commerce by the provinces.” Quesnay’s vision of an economic system governed by natural order led to a political theory of “legal despotism” that would stand on its head an earlier understanding of a more seamless relationship between economy and society. By relegating the state to the margins of the market and giving it free rein there and there alone, the idea of natural order facilitated the unrestrained expansion of the penal sphere. It gave birth to our modern form of neoliberal penality.  In this presentation, I will trace a genealogy of neoliberal penality and explore the effects it has had in the field of crime and punishment specifically, and in the area of economy and society more generally.

•    10:40 – 11:00: Q&A

11:05 – 12:25: Session 2

Economics:
•    11:05 – 11:30: Stephen Marglin, “How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community”:
Economics is a two-faced, one might almost say schizophrenic, discipline.  It claims to be a science, describing the world, telling it like it is without preconception or value judgment.  (Never mind that the hey-day of positivism that enshrines the separation between fact and value is long past; economists have always lived in a time warp.)  The reality is that descriptive economics has been shaped by a framework of assumptions, a metaphysics more geared to its normative message than to its descriptive pretensions.  This framework is essential to the normative side of an economics that trumpets the virtues of markets and is maintained even when it gets in the way of understanding how the economy really works.
The 19th century physicist, Lord Kelvin, famously proclaimed the virtue of knowledge imbued with the precision of number. Economics goes physics one better, from epistemology to ontology: anything we can’t measure—like community—simply doesn’t exist.  If your model of the world is inhabited by self-interested individuals rationally calculating how to consume ever more, for whom society is the nation-state, community is not going to show up on your radar.  It goes without saying that economic hardship, especially the kind caused by unemployment and short hours, will make community more necessary and more visible; people will have to rely on each other more and more as the market fails them.  It remains to be seen what impact this dose of reality will have on economics.

•    11:35 – 12:00: Juliet Schor, “Colossal Failure: The Output Bias of Market Economies”:
Mainstream economic theory claims that a competitive market equilibrium delivers optimal levels of consumption and well-being. The reasoning relies on a number of invalid assumptions, including the crucial premise that individuals’ preference structures are independent. If consumption is social, as considerable social science research shows, then the market delivers excessive levels of consumption, too many hours of work, and too much ecological degradation. (This is in addition to the well-known argument that ecological goods are externalities.) In this talk I discuss the implications of what has become a profound market failure, and how we can rectify it.

•    12:05 – 12:25: Q&A

12:30 – 1:30: Lunch

12:50 – 1:20: UPDATE: Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

1:35 – 3:50: Session 3

Psychology:
•    1:35 – 2:00: Sheena Iyengar, “The Multiple Choice Problem”:
It is a common supposition in modern society that the more choices, the better—that the human ability to manage, and the human desire for, choice is infinite. From classic economic theories of free enterprise, to mundane marketing practices that provide customers with entire aisles devoted to potato chips or soft drinks, to highly consequential life decisions in which people contemplate multiple options for medical treatment or investment opportunities for retirement, this belief pervades our institutions, norms, and customs. In this era of abundant choice, there are several dilemmas that people face: How do you choose given the sheer number of domains in which you now have the ability to choose? And in any given domain, what are the ramifications of being confronted with more options than ever before? In this talk, I will describe decisions we need to make that vary in significance from jams at a supermarket to life-or-death situations, looking at how the exercise of choosing and the availability of numerous options affect decision quality and happiness with the decision outcome.

•    2:05 – 2:30: Nicole Stephens, “Choice, Social Class, and Agency”:
Across disciplines we tend to assume that choice is a fundamental or “basic” unit of human behavior, and that behavior is a product of individual choice. In my talk, I will present a series of lab and field studies that question these assumptions about behavior, and suggest that these assumptions reflect primarily the experiences of college-educated, or middle-class, Americans, who tend to have access to a wealth of choices and an array of quality options among which to choose. I will discuss the implications of these assumptions for the (mis)understanding of behavior across diverse contexts.

•    2:35 – 3:00: Jaime Napier,The Palliative Function of Ideology”:
In this research, we drew on system-justification theory and the notion that conservative ideology serves a palliative function to explain why conservatives are happier than liberals. Specifically, in three studies using nationally representative data from the United States and nine additional countries, we found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective well-being and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In our third study, we found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality.

•    3:05 – 3:30: Barry Schwartz, “Addicted to Incentives: How the Ideology of Self Interest Can Be Self-Fulfilling”:
“If you want someone to do something, you have to make it worth their while.”  This uncontroversial statement is the watchword of our time. It is the core assumption of economics and of rational choice theory.  It is the linchpin of free market ideology.  And it explains why the first place we look in matters of public policy—from regulating financial markets to improving the quality of education to reducing the high costs of health care—is to the incentive system that governs the behavior of current practitioners.  Uncontroversial.  Self-evident.  And false.  In this talk, I will argue that the reductive appeal to self-interest as the master human motive is a false description of human nature.  At the same time, it can become a true description if people live in a world in which incentives are presumed to explain everything and are used to produce the behavior we want.  Just as people can become addicted to heroin, they can become addicted to incentives.  Looking at modern American society as it is gives us a picture of what people can be, but not of what they must be.

•    3:35 – 3:50: Q&A

3:55 – 4:10: Coffee Break
4:15 – 5:55: Session 4

Law & Policy:
•    4:15 – 4:40: Douglas Kysar, “The Point of Precaution: Economics and the Forgetting of Environmental Law”:

By now, the story of modern American environmental law has been redacted into a familiar script, one in which the excesses of our early attempts to regulate the human impact on the environment came to be disciplined by the insights of sound science and economic reasoning, warding off in the process alarmism, inefficiency, and government overreaching.  However useful this script may once have been, it now actively impedes efforts to understand and improve our environmental performance.  Its logic and conclusions have begun to appear so powerful that we have lost sight of a great deal of practical and moral wisdom that remains alive within our early, “excessive” efforts to conserve natural resources, reduce pollution, save species, and enhance human health and safety.  Soon enough, the language of instrumentalism that animates our talk of tradeoffs, efficiency, and welfare maximization will become so dominant that we will lose facility altogether with these alternative and once resonant languages.  We will forget that we once talked of environmental rights, rather than of optimal risk tradeoffs; of the grave challenges posed by uncertainty regarding potentially disastrous or irreversible consequences of human action, rather than of risk aversion and the option value of delay; of the stewardship obligations we incur on behalf of future generations, rather than of discounted welfare maximization; and of the responsibility we hold to lead international cooperative endeavors to protect the global biosphere, rather than of competitiveness concerns arising from regulatory differentiation within the world economy.  In short, we will forget the richly contoured and sometimes convoluted, but always essential moral and political landscape that lends meaning to those aspects of our environmental laws that appear nonsensical from the perspective of economic theory.
•    4:45 – 5:10: Jon Hanson, “Regulation Reactance”

According to folk wisdom, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and people tend to “want what they cannot have.”  Some decades ago, social psychologists identified a related tendency they named “reactance”: the negative response to threats to, or constraints on, perceived freedoms.  Although many have identifiied the significant role played by reactance in the marketing of products, few have noticed  its equally influential role in the promotion of policies and policy ideologies. I’ll review several kinds of support for that claim and explain how the success of the free market mindset reflects “regulation reactance” (among other situational forces).
•    5:15 – 5:30: Q&A

•    5:30 – 5:55: Large Panel Discussion – Presenters and Conference Attendees

o    Anne Alstott (HLS)

o    James Cavallaro (HLS)

o    Gillian Lester (HLS & Berkeley)

o    Michael McCann (Vermont Law)

o    Benjamin Sachs (HLS)

5:55 – 6:00: Closing Remarks

* * *

Learn more or register here.

Posted in Abstracts, Events, History, Ideology, Law, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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