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The Problem with Neurolaw

50 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2013 Last revised: 19 Aug 2017

David W. Opderbeck

Seton Hall University - School of Law

Date Written: February 10, 2013


This article describes and critiques the increasingly popular program of reductive neuroLaw. Law has irrevocably entered the age of neuroscience. Various institutes and conferences are devoted to questions about the relation between neuroscience and legal procedures and doctrines. Most of the new “neuroLaw” scholarship focuses on evidentiary and related issues, and is important and beneficial. But some versions of reductive NeuroLaw are frightening. Although they claim to liberate us from false conceptions of ourselves and to open new spaces for more scientific applications of the law, they end up stripping away all notions of “selves” and of “law.” This article argues that a revitalized sense of transcendent causation is required to avoid the violent metaphysics of reductive neuroLaw and to maintain the integrity of both “law” and “science.”

Keywords: neurolaw, neuroscience, jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Opderbeck, David W., The Problem with Neurolaw (February 10, 2013). Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2214601. Available at SSRN: or

David W. Opderbeck (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
973-642-8496 (Phone)

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