Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Studying Doesn't Mean Endorsing

Neuroethics & Law has a good post up rebutting an off-kilter Guardian article basically claiming that “neurolaw” students are advocates for turning research into defenses for offenders who could claim guiltlessness due to brain function. Not only does the post refute the claim that students are advocates but it also reiterates a point we make here. The findings from research in this area are just as likely to hurt offenders as help them as profiles and predispositions are detailed. And the developing “neuroethics” movement and publications are front and center in the attention to questions of ethics and proper reaction to what the science is producing. This stuff has its own momentum and will drive forward. This article gives a more detailed and balanced overview, citing one of the big names in the field who gives its future impact on law and justice a big thumbs up, “one that ultimately could have as dramatic an impact on the legal system as DNA testing.” But this article also raises the potential for the work to end up coming back on offenders, as well as raising in my mind the possibility of drawing victims who give impact statements into the same procedures to determine how big an impact the crime actually had on them compared to brain-profiled victims of similar crimes. The article is clearly right when it says that these things will pose “deep challenges for the legal system.” Ya think?

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