Neuroscience in Forensic Contexts: Ethical Concerns

In Ethics Challenges in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology Practice 132-158 (Ezra E. H. Griffith ed., 2018)

U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-8

46 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2017 Last revised: 18 Oct 2018

See all articles by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

This chapter addresses whether the use of new neuroscience techniques, especially non-invasive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the data from studies employing them raise new ethical issues for forensic psychiatrists and psychologists. The implicit thesis throughout is that if the legal questions, the limits of the new techniques and the relevance of neuroscience to law are properly understood, no new ethical issues are raised. A major ethical lapse would occur if practitioners use neuroscience without the proper understanding. It concludes that little new neuroscience is directly relevant at present to forensic practice and prescribes modesty and caution before employing it as the basis for expert reports and testimony in criminal and civil law cases.

Keywords: Criminal procedure, functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, expert witnesses, brain imaging, scanning, cognitive, affective, & social neuroscience, mental states, folk psychology, competence, insanity

Suggested Citation

Morse, Stephen J., Neuroscience in Forensic Contexts: Ethical Concerns (2018). In Ethics Challenges in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology Practice 132-158 (Ezra E. H. Griffith ed., 2018); U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2923354

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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