Recently Posted on SSRN (and forthcoming at 121, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City (2013))
Owen D. Jones, Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences
Rapid advances in neuroscience have raised hopes in law, perhaps inevitably, that new techniques for revealing brain function may help to answer perennial questions about the sources, limits, and implications of human behavior, mental states, and psychology. As a consequence, lawyers have sharply increased proffers of neuroscientific evidence in both civil and criminal litigation, and have also invoked neuroscience as relevant to many doctrinal and policy reforms. These new developments make it essential for just legal systems to evaluate and separate legitimate from illegitimate uses of neuroscience. As part of that effort, this forthcoming essay identifies and illustrates seven distinct contexts in which neuroscience – skeptically evaluated but also carefully understood – can be useful to law. The essay is based on a talk delivered at The Vatican, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 2012.