Getting Brainy: A Month of Law & Neuro

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to guest blog on Concurring Opinions!

This month, I’ll be blogging about everything neuro – looking at the intersections of neuroscience and brain imaging in criminal law, mental health/disability, and tort; reviewing US and foreign uses of neuroscience in courtrooms; and engaging with some of the most interesting recent scholarship in law & neuroscience.

The developments in these areas are very exciting but these posts will not necessarily be “neuro-positivist”; my purpose is to contextualize and explore, not (or not just!) to promote or endorse the “neuro turn” in legal scholarship.

Readers: What areas of law & neuro are you most interested in engaging with here?  Neuroethics/behavioral morality?  Juvenile justice?  Criminal theory?  Decision-making and behavior?  I look forward to hearing from you.

If you want to get a jump on the topic, I recommend two excellent blogs and an eJournal: Law & Biosciences, written and curated by Hank Greely, Mark Lemley, and Nita Farahany; Neuroethics & Law, by Adam Kolber, and the SSRN Law & Neuroscience eJournal, co-edited by Oliver Goodenough and me.


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4 Responses

  1. Individual irrationality/group rationality/evolutionary cooperation; for example the work of Dan Ariely, Paul Zak, and Martin Nowak.

    Namely, how do behaviors that are irrational/suboptimal for the individual lead to optimal group interactions, how do those behaviors survive natural selection processes, and what neuro-mechanisms enforce irrational behavior in a rational animal?

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    1. Epistemics, e.g.: How can one make judgments about what an individual is thinking, or at least thinking about, from statistics based on observations of others? What sorts of populations are used to derive those statistics? (E.g., American university students?) What burden of proof could this meet?

    2. Justice: Why does anything “neuro” serve the interests of justice better than a non-neuro approach? What sort of justice does it serve (utilitarian, deonotlogical, etc.)?

    3. And in a broader philosophical context, what is gained and what is lost by attempting to reduce the social and moral to the biological? What is the deeper discourse that is driving this trend?

  3. John Meyers says:

    I am most interested in “criminal theory.” Thanks for asking.

  4. Amanda Pustilnik says:

    Thanks so far for the ideas and suggestions – I very much appreciate them. I definitely will comment on why “neuro” is better – I don’t think that it categorically is – and on criminal theory.