The Brain Sciences and Criminal Law – Abstract
Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 9, 2009
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Although neuroscience and the tools of brain imaging are sufficiently well developed to provide evidence of our neurobiological processing at a level of detail unimaginable until even decade ago (roughly the size of a grain of rice), they are not yet sufficiently developed to be consistently useful in the guilt phase of most criminal trials. Given the advances in imaging and behavioral genetics, however, neuroscience is sufficiently mature today to effect some global procedural and substantive changes in our criminal law jurisprudence based on our advanced understanding of behavioral norms – e.g., changes in the definitions of, and burdens of proof on the issue of competency. In this work, I survey many of the presuppositions that guide work in a jurisprudence grounded in neuroscience and behavioral genetics and suggest how the findings in these areas could useful in effecting real change.
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You can download the paper for free here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Michael Gazzaniga on Brains and Gavels,” “Greely on Law and Neuroscience,” “Jurors, Brain Imaging, and the Allure of Pretty Pictures,” “Neurosciences and Criminal Law,” “Neurolaw Sampler,” “Neuroscience and the Law,” and “Law & the Brain.”