Neuroimaging and Responsibility Assessments

Neuroethics, January 21, 2009

15 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2009 Last revised: 12 Mar 2011

See all articles by Nicole A. Vincent

Nicole A. Vincent

Georgia State University; Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management

Date Written: January 21, 2009


Could neuroimaging evidence help us to assess the degree of a person’s responsibility for a crime which we know that they committed? This essay defends an affirmative answer to this question. A range of standard objections to this high-tech approach to assessing people’s responsibility is considered and then set aside, but I also bring to light and then reject a novel objection - an objection which is only encountered when functional (rather than structural) neuroimaging is used to assess people’s responsibility.

Keywords: Moral responsibility, Legal responsibility, Capacity-theoretic conception of responsibility, Capacitarian theory of responsibility, Mental capacity, Capacity responsibility, Neuroimaging, fMRI, Modal fallacy, Automatic functions, Theory to the best explanation, Roper v Simmons

Suggested Citation

Vincent, Nicole A., Neuroimaging and Responsibility Assessments (January 21, 2009). Neuroethics, January 21, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Nicole A. Vincent (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States


Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 5015
2600 GB Delft
+31654363692 (Phone)


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