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A Primer on Criminal Law and NeuroscienceA contribution of the Law and Neuroscience Project, supported by the MacArthur Foundation$
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Stephen J. Morse and Adina L. Roskies

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199859177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199859177.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

The Relevance of the Neuroscience of Addiction to Criminal Law

The Relevance of the Neuroscience of Addiction to Criminal Law

(p.216) 8 The Relevance of the Neuroscience of Addiction to Criminal Law
A Primer on Criminal Law and Neuroscience

Douglas Husak

Emily Murphy

Oxford University Press

We discuss how the complexities of conducting neuroscience research on addiction limit its application to the criminal law. Individual addicts vary enormously, and the general findings of neuroscientists do not always describe particular cases. Moreover, the neuroscience of addiction may not be relevant to the criminal law because addiction itself may not be relevant. We examine several ways in which it might be thought that addiction is relevant to the penal law before identifying the single respect in which its significance is likely to be greatest. Some jurisdictions have created specialty drug courts that make addiction a necessary condition for eligibility, so evidence from neuroscience is potentially helpful to ensure that defendants would benefit from these diversionary programs. With respect to criminal liability itself, however, we believe that neuroscience turns out to be of limited value at the present time as well as in the foreseeable future.

Keywords:   Addiction, Drug Courts, Responsibility, Treatment, Criminal Liabiliy

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