The Journal of Ethics

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

Neuroprediction, Truth-Sensitivity, and the Law

Article
  • 241 Downloads

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Dangerousness Evidence Neuroprediction Punishment Statistical evidence 

References

  1. Applbaum, Arthur Isak. 1996. Response: Racial generalization, police discretion, and bayesian contractualism. In Handled with discretion, ed. John Kleinig, 145–157. Boston, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  2. Blume, John H., Stephen P. Garvey, and Sheri Lynn Johnson. 2001. Future dangerousness in capital cases: Always ‘At Issue’. Cornell Law Review 86(2): 397–410.Google Scholar
  3. Enoch, David, Levi Spectre, and Talia Fisher. 2012. Statistical evidence, sensitivity, and the legal value of knowledge. Philosophy & Public Affairs 40(3): 197–224.Google Scholar
  4. Enoch, David and Talia Fisher. Forthcoming. Statistical evidence: The case for sensitivity. Stanford Law Review.Google Scholar
  5. Garland, Brent (ed.). 2004. Neuroscience and the law: Brain, mind, and the scales of justice. New York: Dana Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hawthorne, John. 2004. Knowledge and lotteries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Kaye, David. 1979. The paradox of the gatecrasher and other stories. Arizona State Law Journal 1978(4): 101–143. Google Scholar
  8. Krauss, D.A., and B.D. Sales. 2001. The effects of clinical and scientific expert testimony on juror decision making in capital punishment. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 7(3): 267–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lamparello, Adam. 2011. Using cognitive neuroscience to predict future dangerousness. Columbia Human Rights Review 42(2): 481–539.Google Scholar
  10. Megargee, Edwin I. 1976. The prediction of dangerous behavior. Criminal Justice and Behavior 3(1): 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Monahan, J. 1995. The clinical prediction of violent behavior. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc.Google Scholar
  12. Nadelhoffer, Thomas, Stephanos Bibas, Scott Grafton, Kent A. Kiehl, Andrew Mansfield, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, and Michael Gazzaniga. 2012. Neuroprediction, violence, and the law: Setting the stage. Neuroethics 5(1): 67–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nadelhoffer, Thomas, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. 2012. Neurolaw and neuroprediction: Potential promises and perils. Philosophy Compass 7(9): 631–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nozick, Robert. 1981. Philosophical explanations. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Nozick, Robert. 1993. The nature of rationality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Redding, R.E. 2006. The brain-disordered defendant: Neuroscience and legal insanity in the twenty-first century. American University Law Review 56(1): 51–127.Google Scholar
  17. Redding, R.E., M.Y. Floyd, and G.I. Hawk. 2001. What judges and lawyers think about the testimony of mental health experts: A survey of the courts and bar. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 19(4): 583–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Redmayne, Mike. 2008. Exploring the proof paradoxes. Legal Theory 14(4): 281–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sanchirico, Chris William. 2001. Character evidence and the object of trial. Columbia Law Review 101(6): 1227–1311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schauer, Frederick. 2003. Profiles, probabilities, and stereotypes. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Slobogin, C. 1984. Dangerousness and expertise. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 133(1): 97–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Smith, Martin. 2010. What else justification could be? Noûs 44(1): 10–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations