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Law and the Brain Seminar

This course applies insights from the mind and brain sciences to questions of law and policy. Among the topics we will discuss, most fall into one of two categories. The first set concerns issues of responsibility. Some claim that a more scientific understanding of the mind and brain calls into doubt our traditional notions of responsibility. In this light, we will consider the proper scope of the insanity defense and of retributive punishment in general. The second set concerns legal and ethical issues raised by emerging technologies. For example, we will examine pharmaceuticals that enhance memory and cognition beyond our natural abilities. We will also consider the possible use of brain imaging evidence in the courtroom as a method of detecting lies, uncovering bias, or measuring pain. No prior science background is assumed.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
Letter grade only. A paper is required which may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement. No third credit option.