Amedeo Santosuosso, Barbara Bottalico

Neuroscience, Connections and Boundary Lines of Individuals

  • Abstract

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Keywords:

Cognitive neuroscience holds the promise of explaining operations of the mind in terms of the physical operations of the brain. It is claimed that brain imaging techniques now allow the discovery of neurophysiologic markers for almost any kind of behavioral phenotype, normal or pathological, both at explanatory and predictive level. When issues like these are discussed in legal contexts a normal first reaction is to wonder whether a more complete understanding of the neural mechanism for voluntary decision-making might undermine the legal notion of accountability. Would brain scans that reveal a brain feature correlated, even weakly, with a propensity for violence, influence a court's sentence? Will brain imaging subvert the current nosography of mental diseases? Is free will still alive? In this paper, after a short presentation of these issues, we maintain that it is neither exhaustive, in theoretical terms, nor productive to face the new reality in this way. Although the importance of this debate should not be overlooked, we think that a survey of the technological applications of neuroscience on the human body, and their related impact on the law - even beyond the field of criminal law - should be extremely helpful in order to properly focus the issue, that is factually and conceptually wider than that. The questions that arise with this approach, e.g. the social/mental/technical/biological boundaries of any individual, will be extremely challenging.

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