The Brain Sciences and Criminal Law Norms
81 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2009 Last revised: 26 May 2010
Date Written: May 29, 2009
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.
Keywords: criminal law, neuroscience, defenses
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