Brain Science and Law
Recent years have seen enormous advances in scientific and theoretical understanding of the brain.
These advances provide new insights into how the law influences behaviour. At the same time, legal theorists have suggested that jurisprudence and legal theory should take a 'naturalistic turn' to be more informed by brain sciences. Academics within the Law School are examining the use of research from cognitive science, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and associated brain sciences within law and the justice system.
Some of the academics in this research cluster have dual qualifications in cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy. They conduct empirical research, analyse statistics, and engage in programming. They are collaborating with neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatrists to understand the reliability of scientific claims, and working with lawyers worldwide to understand how science is being used in different jurisdictions and to recommend best practice.
Some of the many fascinating and important questions for the law that are being raised by developments in the brain sciences include:
- Why do 'extra-legal' influences such as character and politics affect outcomes in legal cases?
- Do human 'metaphysics of the stone age' limit law's ability to exploit advances in brain sciences?
- Can brain sciences such as neuroimaging reveal whether a person is in pain or is lying, and if so, should such techniques be used?
- Is research suggesting that genotype and childhood mistreatment are linked with higher rates of violent offending relevant to criminal justice?
- Given that the brain develops over time, should this affect attributions of criminal responsibility?
- What circumstances affect the reliability of memory and how can this inform legal procedure?
- Is neuro-enhancement fair, and how should it be regulated?
- Should brain science be used to assess the risk someone poses to society even before they have been found responsible for any wrongdoing by a court?
- Could algorithms be used to help determine legal cases in a more transparent way?
- Can advances in brain sciences illuminate more orthodox legal methodologies such as conceptual analysis in jurisprudence and legal theory?
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