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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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The Implications of Heuristics and Biases Research on Moral and Legal Responsibility

The Implications of Heuristics and Biases Research on Moral and Legal Responsibility

A Case Against the Reasonable Person Standard

(p.135) 6 The Implications of Heuristics and Biases Research on Moral and Legal Responsibility
Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility

Leora Dahan-Katz

Oxford University Press

Research in the field of heuristics and biases has demonstrated that human reasoning processes are often non-normative. Specifically, such research demonstrates that human reasoning processes often rely upon heuristics and are subject to a wide variety of biases. These, in turn, can lead to errors in judgment which may impact human behavior. This chapter argues that this impact cannot be ignored when dealing with questions of moral and legal responsibility. It argues that when heuristic reasoning has an impact upon human judgment and decision-making, this fact can ultimately negate moral culpability. Furthermore, it argues that where legal responsibility is stipulated upon moral responsibility, the findings of Bias Research must also inform the imposition of legal responsibility. Specifically, it argues that in light of Bias Research, the current reasonable person standard employed in negligence offences is unjustifiable and must be replaced with a standard of responsibility that better reflects individual culpability.

Keywords:   reasonable person, negligence, criminal law, heuristics, biases, cognitive psychology, moral responsibility, culpability

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