Neuroethics: Neurolaw

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter discusses whether the findings of the new neuroscience based largely on functional brain imaging raise new normative questions and entail normative conclusions for ethical and legal theory and practice. After reviewing the source of optimism about neuroscientific contributions and the current scientific status of neuroscience, it addresses a radical challenge neuroscience allegedly presents: whether neuroscience proves persons do not have agency. It then considers a series of discrete topics in neuroethics and neurolaw, including the “problem” of responsibility, enhancement of normal functioning, threats to civil liberty, competence, informed consent, end-of-life issues, neuroevidence in criminal cases, and the ethics of caution. It suggests that the ethical and legal resources to respond to the findings of neuroscience already exist and will do so for the foreseeable future.


neuroscience, neuroethics, neurolaw, Agency, responsibility, enhancement, competence, informed consent, neuroevidence, criminal law

Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Topics in Philosophy