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Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility$
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Nicole A. Vincent

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199925605

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199925605.001.0001

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Enhancing Responsibility

Enhancing Responsibility

(p.305) 13 Enhancing Responsibility
Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility

Nicole A Vincent

Oxford University Press

We normally think that responsibility tracks mental capacity — i.e. that people’s responsibility diminishes when their mental capacities are compromised, and that it is restored as those capacities are regained. But how is responsibility affected when mental capacities are extended beyond their normal range? Would cognitively enhanced people become “hyper responsible”, and if so then in what sense? Might they acquire new responsibilities? Could they be blamed for failing to discharge those responsibilities? Would this make them more prone to being liable? Would they necessarily be less irresponsible than their non-enhanced counterparts? Relatedly, might we sometimes have a responsibility to cognitively enhance ourselves, and might we be negligent or maybe even reckless if we don’t do so? This chapter argues that cognitive enhancement affects our responsibility in a range of different ways, and it also suggests some ways in which cognitive enhancement is likely to impact on legal responsibility.

Keywords:   responsibility, mental capacity, enhancement, capacitarianism, hypercapacity, hyperresponsibility, standard of care, professional liability, ought implies can, structured taxonomy of responsibility concepts

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