Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility

Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility

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How should neuroscience, psychology and behavioral genetics impact legal responsibility practices?

Recent findings from these fields are sometimes claimed to threaten the moral foundations of legal responsibility practices by revealing that determinism, or something like it, is true. On this account legal responsibility practices should be abolished because there is no room for such outmoded fictions as responsibility in an enlightened and scientifically-informed approach to the regulation of society.

However, the chapters in this volume reject this claim and its related agenda of radical legal reform. Embracing instead a broadly compatibilist approach - one according to which responsibility hinges on psychological features of agents not on metaphysical features of the universe - this volume's authors demonstrate that the behavioral and mind sciences may impact legal responsibility practices in a range of different ways, for instance: by providing fresh insight into the nature of normal and
pathological human agency, by offering updated medical and legal criteria for forensic practitioners as well as powerful new diagnostic and intervention tools and techniques with which to appraise and to alter minds, and by raising novel regulatory challenges.

Science and law have been locked in a philosophical dialogue on the nature of human agency ever since the 13th century when a mental element was added to the criteria for legal responsibility. The rich story told by the 14 essays in this volume testifies that far from ending this philosophical dialogue, neuroscience, psychology and behavioral genetics have the potential to further enrich and extend this dialogue.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 166 x 238 x 31mm | 724g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199925607
  • 9780199925605
  • 842,494

Table of contents

Chapter 1 ; Introduction ; Nicole A. Vincent ; Chapter 2 ; Criminal Common Law Compatibilism ; Stephen J. Morse ; Chapter 3 ; What can neurosciences say about responsibility? Taking the distinction between theoretical and practical reason seriously ; Anne Ruth Mackor ; Chapter 4 ; Irrationality, mental capacities and neuroscience ; Jillian Craigie and Alicia Coram ; Chapter 5 ; Skepticism Concerning Human Agency: Sciences of the Self vs. 'Voluntariness' in the Law ; Paul Sheldon Davies ; Chapter 6 ; The Implications of Heuristics and Biases Research on Moral and Legal Responsibility: A Case Against the Reasonable Person Standard ; Leora Dahan-Katz ; Chapter 7 ; Moral Responsibility and Consciousness: Two Challenges, One Solution ; Neil Levy ; Chapter 8 ; Translating Scientific Evidence into the Language of the 'Folk': Executive Function as Capacity-Responsibility ; Katrina L. Sifferd ; Chapter 9 ; Neuroscience, deviant appetites and the criminal law ; Colin Gavaghan ; Chapter 10 ; Is Psychopathy a Mental Disease? ; Thomas Nadelhoffer & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong ; Chapter 11 ; Addiction, choice, and disease: How voluntary is voluntary action in addiction? ; Jeanette Kennett ; Chapter 12 ; How may neuroscience affect the way that the criminal courts deal with addicted offenders? ; Wayne Hall & Adrian Carter ; Chapter 13 ; Enhancing Responsibility ; Nicole A. Vincent ; Chapter 14 ; Guilty Minds in Washed Brains? ; Manipulation Cases, Excuses and the Normative Prerequisites of Liberal Legal Orders ; Christoph Bublitz & Reinhard Merkel
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About Nicole A Vincent

Research Fellow, Philosophy, Macquarie University Australia and Chief Investigator of the Enhancing Responsibility Project based at Delft University of Technology
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