The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 123–136 | Cite as

Neuroprediction, Truth-Sensitivity, and the Law

  • Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen


A recent argument by Nadelhoffer et al. defends a cautious optimism regarding the use of neuroprediction in relation to sentencing based, in part, on an assessment of the offender’s dangerousness. While this optimism may be warranted, Nadelhoffer et al.’s argument fails to justify it. Although neuropredictions provide individualized, non-statistical evidence they will often be problematic for the same reason that basing sentencing on statistical evidence is, to wit, that such predictions are insensitive to the offender’s dangerousness in relevant counterfactual situations and, accordingly, fail to provide the court with knowledge of the offender’s dangerousness. Admittedly, it could be replied that standard clinical assessments of dangerousness possess the same objectionable feature, but doing so undermines a different part of Nadelhoffer et al.’s argument. Finally, I criticize an incentives-based rationale for sentencing informed by neuropredictions of dangerousness.


Dangerousness Evidence Neuroprediction Punishment Statistical evidence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and GovernmentAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

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