Ethics
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAging, Biotechnology, and the FutureAlbert Schweitzer's Reverence for LifeAlphavilleAltruismAmerican EugenicsAmerican PsychosisAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy And a Time to DieAnimal LessonsAnimal RightsAnimals Like UsApplied Ethics in Mental Health CareAre Women Human?Aristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAssisted Suicide and the Right to DieAutonomyAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismAutonomy, Consent and the LawBabies by DesignBackslidingBad PharmaBad SoulsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBeauty JunkiesBefore ForgivingBeing AmoralBeing YourselfBending Over BackwardsBending ScienceBernard WilliamsBetter Humans?Better Than WellBeyond ChoiceBeyond GeneticsBeyond HatredBeyond Humanity?Beyond LossBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond the DSM StoryBias in Psychiatric DiagnosisBioethicsBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics at the MoviesBioethics Beyond the HeadlinesBioethics Critically ReconsideredBioethics in a Liberal SocietyBioethics in the ClinicBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical Research and BeyondBiosBioscience EthicsBipolar ChildrenBluebirdBodies out of BoundsBodies, Commodities, and BiotechnologiesBody BazaarBoundBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBraintrustBrandedBreaking the SilenceBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyCapital PunishmentCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsChallenging the Stigma of Mental IllnessCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionChild Well-BeingChildrenChildren's RightsChoosing ChildrenChoosing Not to ChooseClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical EthicsCloningClose toYouCoercion as CureCoercive Treatment in PsychiatryCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy Comfortably NumbCommonsense RebellionCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentComprehending CareConducting Insanity EvaluationsConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConflict of Interest in the ProfessionsConsuming KidsContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContentious IssuesContesting PsychiatryCrazy in AmericaCreating CapabilitiesCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical Perspectives in Public HealthCritical PsychiatryCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCutting to the CoreCyborg CitizenDamaged IdentitiesDeaf Identities in the MakingDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDebating Same-Sex MarriageDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecoding the Ethics CodeDefining DifferenceDefining Right and Wrong in Brain ScienceDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDelusions of GenderDementiaDemocracy in What State?Demons of the Modern WorldDescriptions and PrescriptionsDesert and VirtueDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital HemlockDigital SoulDignityDisability BioethicsDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisordered Personalities and CrimeDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDoes Feminism Discriminate against Men?Does Torture Work?Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing CountriesDrugs and JusticeDworkin and His CriticsDying in the Twenty-First CenturyEarly WarningEconomics and Youth ViolenceEmbodied RhetoricsEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotional ReasonEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmpathyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEncountering NatureEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEngendering International HealthEnhancing EvolutionEnhancing Human CapacitiesEnoughEros and the GoodErotic InnocenceErotic MoralityEssays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEthical Choices in Contemporary MedicineEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEthical Issues in Behavioral ResearchEthical Issues in Dementia CareEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEthical LifeEthical Reasoning for Mental Health ProfessionalsEthical TheoryEthical WillsEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthicsEthicsEthicsEthics and AnimalsEthics and ScienceEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting RealGluttonyGood WorkGoodness & AdviceGreedGroups in ConflictGrowing Up GirlGut FeminismHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHandbook for Health Care Ethics CommitteesHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of PsychopathyHappinessHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHard FeelingsHard LuckHardwired BehaviorHarmful ThoughtsHeal & ForgiveHealing PsychiatryHealth Care Ethics for PsychologistsHeterosyncraciesHistorical and Philosophical Perspectives on Biomedical EthicsHoly WarHookedHookedHow Can I Be Trusted?How Propaganda WorksHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Make Opportunity EqualHow Universities Can Help Create a Wiser WorldHow We HopeHow We Think About DementiaHuman BondingHuman EnhancementHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman TrialsHumanism, What's That?Humanitarian ReasonHumanityHumanizing MadnessI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Was WrongIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf That Ever Happens to MeImproving Nature?In Defense of FloggingIn Defense of SinIn Love With LifeIn Our Own ImageIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Name of IdentityIn the Wake of 9/11In Two MindsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchInnovation in Medical TechnologyInside Assisted LivingInside EthicsIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIntensive CareIs Human Nature Obsolete?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is There a Duty to Die?Is There an Ethicist in the House?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJudging Children As ChildrenJust a DogJust BabiesJust CareJustice for ChildrenJustice for HedgehogsJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeJustifiable ConductKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Theory of VirtueKids of CharacterKilling McVeighLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLaw and the BrainLearning About School ViolenceLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLegal and Ethical Aspects of HealthcareLegal Aspects of Mental CapacityLegal ConceptionsLegalizing ProstitutionLet Them Eat ProzacLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberal EugenicsLife After FaithLife at the BottomLife, Sex, and IdeasListening to the WhispersLiving ProfessionalismLosing Matt ShepardLostLuckyMad in AmericaMad PrideMadhouseMaking Another World PossibleMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMalignantMasculinity Studies and Feminist TheoryMeaning and Moral OrderMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeans, Ends, and PersonsMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedical Research for HireMedicalized MasculinitiesMedically Assisted DeathMeditations for the HumanistMelancholia and MoralismMental Health Professionals, Minorities and the PoorMental Illness, Medicine and LawMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMetaethical SubjectivismMill's UtilitarianismMind FieldsMind WarsMind WarsModern Theories of JusticeModernity and TechnologyMoney ShotMonsterMoral Acquaintances and Moral DecisionsMoral ClarityMoral CultivationMoral Development and RealityMoral Dilemmas in Real LifeMoral DimensionsMoral EntanglementsMoral FailureMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral MindsMoral OriginsMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMoral ParticularismMoral PerceptionMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RealismMoral RelativismMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral Status and Human LifeMoral StealthMoral Theory at the MoviesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMoral, Immoral, AmoralMoralismMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMore Than HumanMotive and RightnessMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurder in the InnMy Body PoliticMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Sister's KeeperMy Sister's KeeperMy WayNano-Bio-EthicsNarrative MedicineNarrative ProsthesisNatural Ethical FactsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalized BioethicsNeither Bad nor MadNeoconservatismNeonatal BioethicsNeurobiology and the Development of Human MoralityNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew Waves in EthicsNew Waves in MetaethicsNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNo Child Left DifferentNo Impact ManNormative EthicsNormativityNothing about us, without us!Oath BetrayedOf War and LawOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn EvilOn Human RightsOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOn the TakeOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne ChildOne Nation Under TherapyOne World NowOne World NowOur Bodies, Whose Property?Our Bodies, Whose Property?Our Daily MedsOur Faithfulness to the PastOur Posthuman FutureOut of EdenOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPassionate DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRefuting Peter Singer's Ethical TheoryRelative JusticeRelativism and Human RightsReligion ExplainedReprogeneticsRescuing JeffreyResponsibilityResponsibility and PsychopathyResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsResponsible GeneticsRethinking CommodificationRethinking Informed Consent in BioethicsRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeReturn to ReasonRevolution in PsychologyRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRisk and Luck in Medical EthicsRobert NozickRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Rule of Law, Misrule of MenRun, Spot, RunRunning on RitalinSatisficing and MaximizingSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and EthicsScience in the Private InterestScience, Policy, and the Value-Free IdealScience, Seeds and CyborgsScratching the Surface of BioethicsSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSeeing the LightSelf-ConstitutionSelf-Made MadnessSelf-Trust and Reproductive AutonomySentimental RulesSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex OffendersSexual DevianceSexual EthicsSexual PredatorsSexualized BrainsShaping Our SelvesShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShunnedSick to Death and Not Going to Take It AnymoreSickoSide EffectsSidewalk StoriesSister CitizenSkeptical FeminismSocial Inclusion of People with Mental IllnessSocial JusticeSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSovereign VirtueSpiral of EntrapmentSplit DecisionsSticks and StonesStories MatterSubjectivity and Being SomebodySuffering, Death, and IdentitySuicide ProhibitionSurgery JunkiesSurgically Shaping ChildrenTaking Morality SeriouslyTaming the Troublesome ChildTechnology and the Good Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Criminal BrainThe Decency WarsThe Difficult-to-Treat Psychiatric PatientThe Disability PendulumThe Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to ConfrontationThe Domain of ReasonsThe Double-Edged HelixThe Duty to ProtectThe Emotional Construction of MoralsThe End of Ethics in a Technological SocietyThe End of Stigma?The Essentials of New York Mental Health LawThe Ethical BrainThe Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health SciencesThe Ethics of BioethicsThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of SightseeingThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Ethics of the LieThe Ethics of TransplantsThe Ethics ToolkitThe Evolution of Mental Health LawThe Evolution of MoralityThe FamilyThe Fat Studies ReaderThe Forgiveness ProjectThe Form of Practical KnowledgeThe Fountain of YouthThe Freedom ParadoxThe Future of Assisted Suicide and EuthanasiaThe Future of Human NatureThe Good BookThe Good LifeThe Great BetrayalThe Handbook of Disability StudiesThe Healing VirtuesThe High Price of MaterialismThe History of Human RightsThe HorizonThe Idea of JusticeThe Ideal of NatureThe Illusion of Freedom and EqualityThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Importance of Being UnderstoodThe Insanity OffenseThe Joy of SecularismThe Language PoliceThe Last Normal ChildThe Last UtopiaThe Limits of MedicineThe LobotomistThe Love CureThe Lucifer EffectThe Manual of EpictetusThe Mark of ShameThe Meaning of NiceThe Medicalization of SocietyThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind Has MountainsThe Modern Art of DyingThe Modern SavageThe Moral ArcThe Moral BrainThe Moral Demands of MemoryThe Moral FoolThe Moral MindThe Moral Psychology HandbookThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Good You Can DoThe Myth of ChoiceThe Myth of the Moral BrainThe Nature of NormativityThe New Disability HistoryThe New Genetic MedicineThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Offensive InternetThe Origins of FairnessThe Oxford Handbook of Animal EthicsThe Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of LifeThe Perfect BabyThe Philosophy of NeedThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of PsychiatryThe Politics Of LustThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Price of PerfectionThe Price of TruthThe Problem of PunishmentThe Prosthetic ImpulseThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe PsychopathThe Purity MythThe Pursuit of PerfectionThe Relevance of Philosophy to LifeThe Right Road to Radical FreedomThe Right to Be ParentsThe Righteous MindThe Root of All EvilThe Rules of InsanityThe Second SexismThe Second-Person StandpointThe Silent World of Doctor and PatientThe Sleep of ReasonThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Speed of DarkThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story of Cruel and UnusualThe Story WithinThe Stubborn System of Moral ResponsibilityThe Suicide TouristThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Therapy of DesireThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Triple HelixThe Trolley Problem MysteriesThe Trouble with DiversityThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Ugly LawsThe Varieties of Religious ExperienceThe Virtues of HappinessThe Virtuous Life in Greek EthicsThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Voice of Breast Cancer in Medicine and BioethicsThe War Against BoysThe War for Children's MindsThe Whole ChildThe Woman RacketThe Worldwide Practice of TortureTherapy with ChildrenThieves of VirtueThree Generations, No ImbecilesTimes of Triumph, Times of DoubtTolerance Among The VirtuesTolerance and the Ethical LifeTolerationToxic PsychiatryTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreatment Kind and FairTrusting on the EdgeTry to RememberUltimate JudgementUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUndermining ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Have We DoneWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!

Related Topics
Law and the BrainReview - Law and the Brain
by Semir Zeki and Oliver Goodenough (Editors)
Oxford University Press, 2006
Review by Raffaele Rodogno, Ph.D.
Jul 17th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 29)

This is a rather introductory, clear, and readable collection of papers for those interested in issues at the intersection between brain science and the law as well as those interested in ethics broadly understood.  The 14 essays are structured so as to provide a loose progression for the reader.

The first two essays, 'The neuroeconomic path of the law' by Judge Morris Hoffman (Colorado) and 'How neuroscience might advance the law' by Erin O'Hara (Law, Vanderbilt), put the combination of law and the brain into its context in jurisprudence and the legal academy, both intellectually and politically.  These two essays are really informative for those who are not acquainted with the US legal practice context.

The next two essays, 'Law and the sources of morality' by Robert Hinde (Zoology, Cambridge) and 'Law, evolution, and the brain' by Owen Jones (Law and Biology, Vanderbilt), examine the underlying principles of evolutionary biology that provide a foundation for the proximate brain mechanisms involved in morality and law.  The former essay, in my opinion, fails to take into account of what philosophers interested in the nature of morality call reason as a source of morality.  Recently, others contributors to this volume among others (e.g. Greene) have begun to find neuroscientific evidence in favor of the idea that at least some types of moral judgments activate parts of the brain typically associated with higher cognitive capacities rather than emotions.  These findings would not contradict Hinde's thesis that "moral codes and values are derived from human nature" but would still go against the spirit in which the author cashes out this claim.  The latter of these two essays is a clear, introductory, and useful (though at times repetitive, e.g. pp.61-62) account of the ways in which evolutionary biology, and in particular ultimate behavioral causes, can explain proximate causes for behavior.  Or again, how "different behaviors of different individuals can flow from species-typical brains that sport highly contingent evolved algorithms..."  (60) The theory is then convincingly applied to a number of areas in which evolutionary biology could make a contribution to the law such as for example, cost-benefit analysis or in the process of assessing the effectiveness  of legal strategies (the author provides an explanation as to why it may be predicted that it would prove more difficult for criminal law, family law, torts and property law to change behaviors pertaining to "mating, fairness, homicide, childrearing, status-seeking, property and territory, resource accumulation, sexuality..." (73)).

In the final introductory article, Oliver Goodenough and Kristin Prehn (Psychology, Humboldt) describe 'A neuroscientific approach to normative judgments in law and justice', reviewing the state of research  into normative judgment, making the link between law and cognitive neuroscience, and providing, along the way, an introduction to the methods of cognitive neuroscience for the lay reader.  Philosophers and/or those not acquainted with the empirical sciences at hand will find the subsection on 'Methodological considerations' (88-90) particularly rewarding.  They will finally understand, for example, that fMRI images indicate as active only those parts of the brains that show a statistically significant level of increase or decrease in the measurable phenomenon (blood flow) as compared with a control state.  This piece of information will enable one to ask a number of methodologically crucial questions concerning the definition and nature of the control state. 

The next pair of articles, 'The brain and the law' by Terrence Chorvath (Law, George Mason) and Kevin McCabe (Economics and Law, George Mason) and 'Neuroeconomics' by Paul Zack (Economics, Claremont Graduate University) provide complementary reviews of exciting developments in economics growing out of the new neuroscience .  Both also suggest potential applications of these developments to legal concerns, particularly in the realms of economic exchange and institution building.  While the former essay seems to do be doing so at a more general level ("Its focus is the development and the effect of law on the main body of society" envisaged from a neuroeconomic point of view and with particular emphasis on the development of trust) the latter essay mentions (in passing) specific legal examples such as how neuroeconomics can help explaining what rewards and what punishments are likely to work and why (for example, most punishment have little impact on deterring larceny (149)). Zack's essay also includes an introduction to brain anatomy for non-specialists.

Moving to more specific legal problems, the issue next presents a pair of articles on courtroom concerns: 'A cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding causal reasoning and the law' by Jonathan Fugelsang (Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth) and Kevin Dunbar (Psychological and Brain Sciences and Education, Dartmouth), and 'Scanning the deceiving brain' by Sean A. Spence, and his colleagues (Psychiatry, Sheffield).  A better understanding of how people evaluate evidence as they come to decisions and of the neurological processes of deception should be of particular interest to judges and courtroom advocates.  The next article, Jeffrey Stake's treatment of 'The property' 'instinct', posits a neurobiological logic for this important human--and perhaps animal--institution.  Here, for example, we learn that experiments and observations in the field and laboratory suggest that the legal rules of temporal priority--first in time, first in right--and possession are grounded in what were evolutionarily stable strategies in the ancestral environment.  Moreover, the preferences that humans exhibit in disposing of their property on their deaths, both by dispositions in wills and by the laws of intestacy, tend to advance reproductive success as a result of inclusive fitness pay-offs.

The book closes with a group of four articles that revolve around the conundrum of criminal responsibility.  In 'For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything' Joshua Green (Psychology, Princeton) and Jonathan Cohen (Psychology, Princeton), advance a forceful attack on the idea of free will generally and on the patterns of criminal punishment that flow from a starting point of volition and blame.  Robert Sapolsky (Biology and Neurology, Stanford) offers a further critique of the law of criminal responsibility, making the explicit connection between 'The frontal cortex and the criminal justice system'.  In 'The emergence of consequential thought: evidence from neuroscience', Abigail Baird (Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth) and Jonathan Fugelsang review the emerging understanding of the physiology of brain maturation in adolescents and draw conclusions about the ability of this group to reason effectively about the consequences of their actions.  Finally, Oliver Goodenough poses the countervailing question: 'Responsibility and punishment: whose mind?'  He suggests that the psychology of punishment may have more to do with the legal tests of competency than the psychology of the offender.

In the remaining part of this review, as a philosopher, I shall offer some critical comments on the Green and Cohen piece, the most philosophical essay in this interesting and interdisciplinary collection.  The essay is generally well argued, at least once the tension in the catchy title is relaxed.  The authors claim that 'For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything'.  How is that possible?'

Existing legal principles make virtually no assumptions about the neural bases of criminal behavior, and as a result they can comfortably assimilate new neuroscience without much in the way of conceptual upheaval: new details, new sources of evidence, but nothing for which the law is fundamentally unprepared.  We maintain, however, that our operative legal principles exist because they more or less adequately capture an intuitive sense of justice.  In our view, neuroscience will challenge and ultimately reshape our intuitive sense(s) of justice.  New neuroscience will affect the way we view the law...by identifying the specific mechanisms responsible for behavior [and showing] that there is something fishy about our ordinary conceptions of human action and responsibility, and that, as a result, the legal principles we have devised to reflect these conceptions may be flawed.  (208)

The authors then claim that the law changes both nothing and, though indirectly, also everything which is clearly a contradiction.  So, which one is it?  I believe that, if pressed, the authors will readily admit that neuroscience changes at least something rather than nothing for the law.  This, I think, is the less catchy thesis which the essay purports to defend.  The argument proceeds first by drawing a distinction between consequentialist and retributivist justifications for state punishment and then by arguing that current legal doctrine, although officially compatibilist is ultimately grounded in intuitions about human free will that are incompatibilist and, more specifically, libertarian (in the metaphysical sense).  These intuitions are threatened by determinism and in particular by forthcoming deterministic neuroscience.  "New neuroscience will undermine people's common sense, libertarian conception of free will and the retributivist thinking that depends on it, both of which have heretofore been shielded by the inaccessibility of sophisticated thinking about the mind and its neural basis."  (208) As a result, the largely retributivist foundations of our criminal justice system will be shaken at their core.  "Retributivism, despite its unstable marriage to compatibilist philosophy in the letter of the law, ultimately depends on an intuitive, libertarian notion of free will that is undermined by science."  (209)

Though this does not change much to the conclusions the authors want to reach, it should be noticed that they may give an oversimplified picture of the "letter of the law" and its avowedly compatibilist nature.  Granting that "it is generally agreed that a legal excuse requires a demonstration that the defendant 'lacked a general capacity for rationality'"(212),

 it does not follow that that is all there is to the notion of criminal responsibility.  For example, the law assigns different levels of blame, and different punishments, to two agents whose mens rea is exactly the same.  Attempted murder is a different and less grave offence than murder even though it may have been a question of sheer luck that the would-have-been murderer failed in its endeavor.  If determinism is one ingredient of compatibilism, and the law is avowedly compatibilist, than luck should have no place in the law, for it has no place in determinism.  Yet, it may be argued it is quite present in the "letter of the law".  The authors may of course reply that though such considerations are present in the law and its practice, they are not in the letter of the law.  To show this type of discrepancy is after all one of the main points of their essay.  At that point, however, one has to be clearer about how to determine what is in the "letter of the law" and what is not (something at times particularly difficult within the Anglo-American legal tradition).

The authors also display a naïf optimism concerning the power of persuasion of science similar to that one could find at work in some of the luminaries of the Enlightenment and their attitude towards reason.  Having pointed out at different places that old philosophical arguments have long shown that the type of "magical mental causation" required by the retributivist theories is a non-starter, they place their trust on the power of hard science:

"Arguments are nice, but physical demonstrations are far more compelling.  What neuroscience does, and will continue to do at an accelerated pace, is elucidate the 'when', 'where' and 'ho' of the mechanical processes that cause behavior.  It is one thing to deny that human decision-making is purely mechanical when your opponent offers only a general, philosophical argument.  It is quite another to hold your ground when your opponent can make detailed predictions about how these mechanical processes work, complete with images of the brain structures involved and equations that describe their function."  (217)

Indeed, it is another thing.  Yet, many, many people are resistant to both 'nice arguments' and 'physical demonstrations', witness the attitudes of many believers and, more recently, of particular sets of them, such as creationists.  The authors submit that jurors of the future, fully aware of the mechanical nature of human decision-making, will cease to wonder whether, say, the defendant of a crime of passion, was really himself when he killed his wife, whether he did it of his own free will, whether he could have done otherwise, and whether he deserves to be punished (218).  Many may think along with the authors that the jurors of the future should not ask themselves these questions.  Based on the history of humanity, however, there is some solid evidence that they will.

In fact, the authors themselves examine some of the scientific reasons why despite their persistent efforts, scientifically minded philosophers have managed to talk almost no one out of the practice of attributing free will to others (219).  They review psychological and neuroscientific data which characterizes the mechanisms that underlie our sense of free will, and how these mechanisms can lead us to assume free will is operating when it is not, and how a scientific understanding of these mechanisms can serve to dismantle our commitment to the idea of free will.  In short, there is a fair amount of evidence suggesting that humans have a set of cognitive subsystems that are specialized for processing information about animate objects and a different set of cognitive subsystems for inanimate objects (220).  The former seem to be activated by simple patterns of movements even when such movements are generated by fictional inanimate figures such a triangles and circles moving about in a television screen.  People not only see these shapes as 'alive'.  They see beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions, personality traits and even moral blameworthiness.  Similarly, our cognitive subsystems for inanimate objects seem to be responsible for a number of systematic discrepancies between people's physical intuitions and the way the world actually works.

What is more, there are probably deep evolutionary explanations as to why humans may display a tendency to retributive punishment as well as a tendency to seeing the world as flatly Euclidean rather as curved space (223).  Yet, the form of knowledge afforded by these subsystems is only intuitive and we are not inescapably bound by it.  Just like Euclidean tendencies are useful when we navigate our everyday world but can and should be abandoned when we are planning to launch a spacecraft, so it may be pointless or even impossible to see others as purely mechanical agents in our everyday interactions and yet "it may not be pointless or impossible to adopt this perspective when one is deciding what the criminal law should be or whether a given defendant should be put to death for his crimes."  (223)

By framing the problem in these terms, the authors suggest that shifting from one cognitive system to another (from the intuitive one to the correct (rational?) one) is justified by our practical purposes.  That will be easily accepted in the case of physical knowledge at hand: the successful launch of the spacecraft depends on correct knowledge of space and its features, however, unintuitive.  However, the very idea of teleology, and hence that of a purpose, is precisely what is debated by retributivist punishment theories, at least in their pure form.  What is more, as the authors had previously claimed, our operative legal principles exist because they more or less adequately capture an intuitive sense of justice (208).  What sense of justice is left for us once we move away from the intuitive level as the authors suggest we do?

 Finally, the authors should tell us why, in the enlightened future they foresee, "The law will continue to punish misdeeds, as it must for practical reasons" (218).  The day it becomes clear to everyone that state punishment is neither deserved nor underserved, the only thing left in "punishment" will be hard treatment, the purpose of which may be deterrence and correction.  That day--one may speculate--statistics showing the inefficiency of hard treatment for these purposes will be given more weight than today.  At that point, hard treatment may simply be abolished in favor of other solutions.  If neuroscience ever achieves this feat, it will have changed more than just something for the law.

 

© 2007 Raffaele Rodogno

 

Raffaele Rodogno, Ph.D., Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Geneva, Switzerland and Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Swiss National Center for the Affective Sciences.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716