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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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Mind-reading by Brain-reading and Criminal Responsibility

Mind-reading by Brain-reading and Criminal Responsibility

(p.137) 7 Mind-reading by Brain-reading and Criminal Responsibility
Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience

Gideon Yaffe

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores whether neuroscience can provide ‘mind-reading’ evidence that may be useful for legal proceedings. It argues that neuroscience may indeed provide a type of epistemically robust evidence of mental states that differs in kind from the usual behavioural, psychological, and cultural evidence used to infer mental states. Neuroscientists may discover how a mental state is ‘realized’ in the brain and, therefore, evidence of whether the ‘realizer’ is present or absent will provide evidence of whether a mental state is present. The chapter goes on to discuss several important limitations on such evidence, arguing that it could not be used to infer past mental states, future mental states, or capabilities regarding mental states. It then concludes by noting one area where such ‘mind-reading’ evidence could be particularly probative in law.

Keywords:   mind-reading, mind-reading evidence, legal proceedings, inferring mental states, neuroscience

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