The Status of NeuroLaw: A Plea for Current Modesty and Future Cautious Optimism

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Legislators, jurists, and advocates often turn to science to solve complicated normative problems addressed by the law. This article addresses what motivates these parties, surveys the psychology of law and its concepts of the person and responsibility, and describes the general relation of neuroscience to law in terms of the issue of "translation." Numerous distractions have clouded our understanding of the relationship between scientific, causal accounts of behavior and responsibility. The notion of "NeuroLaw" is examined here in detail, with the conclusion that a cautious optimism regarding the contributions of neuroscience to the law is warranted.


Criminal justice, criminal responsibility, neurolaw, neuroscience

Publication Title

Journal of Psychiatry & Law

Publication Citation

39 J. Psych. & L. 59 (2011)