Responsible Brains: Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability

New York, NY, USA: MIT Press. Edited by Katrina Sifferd & Tyler Fagan (2018)
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[This download includes the table of contents and chapter 1.] When we praise, blame, punish, or reward people for their actions, we are holding them responsible for what they have done. Common sense tells us that what makes human beings responsible has to do with their minds and, in particular, the relationship between their minds and their actions. Yet the empirical connection is not necessarily obvious. The “guilty mind” is a core concept of criminal law, but if a defendant on trial for murder were found to have serious brain damage, which brain parts or processes would have to be damaged for him to be considered not responsible, or less responsible, for the crime? The authors argue that evidence from neuroscience and the other cognitive sciences can illuminate the nature of responsibility and agency. They go on to offer a novel and comprehensive neuroscientific theory of human responsibility.

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