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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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Neuroscience, Deviant Appetites, and the Criminal Law

Neuroscience, Deviant Appetites, and the Criminal Law

(p.205) 9 Neuroscience, Deviant Appetites, and the Criminal Law
Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility

Colin Gavaghan

Oxford University Press

Attempts to measure sexual appetites for legal purposes, while by no means novel, have been rendered particularly topical by some recent high profile controversies. At the same time, a number of papers have demonstrated the potential for fMRI technology to identify and measure sexual interest with potentially greater accuracy than existing technologies, and in a manner that may be seen as less invasive and degrading. In this chapter, I consider whether such technological advances could alleviate all concerns about such testing. While a safety-based case could certainly be made for seeking to identify potential sexual predators, there may remain legitimate causes for unease. Perhaps more importantly, the conflation of appetite with propensity to act threatens to compress the space in which authentically moral decisions are made, i.e. the space in which we opt not to act on our base appetites, but instead to be guided by our higher-order faculties.

Keywords:   neuroscience, criminal law, paedophilia, urge, intent, neurolaw, phallometric testing, pre-crime

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