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Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience$
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Dennis Patterson and Michael S. Pardo

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198743095.001.0001

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A Neurological Foundation for Freedom

A Neurological Foundation for Freedom

(p.51) 3 A Neurological Foundation for Freedom*
Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience

Nita A. Farahany

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to reframe the neurolaw discussions involving the concepts of free will, mind, and action from the previous two chapters. Specifically, the chapter shifts from traditional free-will debates regarding determinism to the question of whether freedom of action (i.e. the ability to bring about an intended action) is a sufficient ground for responsibility. The chapter confronts both the reductionist tendencies of many scholars who see neuroscience as displacing our ‘folk psychological’ vocabularies and what it describes as the ‘consequentialist justification’ of the criminal law. Furthermore, the chapter defends freedom of action as sufficient for legal responsibility. It argues that neuroscience (with the aid of technologies such as brain–machine interface) can demonstrate that freedom of action exists and can help to reveal its nature and its limits.

Keywords:   freedom of action, consequentialist justification, neuroscience, legal responsibility, reductionist tendencies

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