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Murder in the CourtroomThe Cognitive Neuroscience of Violence$
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Brigitte Vallabhajosula

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199995721

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199995721.001.0001

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Violence, Free Will, and Legal Responsibility

Violence, Free Will, and Legal Responsibility

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Violence, Free Will, and Legal Responsibility
Source:
Murder in the Courtroom
Author(s):

Brigitte Vallabhajosula

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199995721.003.0001

Cognitive functions and mental phenomena can be explained to a great extent in terms of neuronal structures and functions. However, there is, at present, no philosophical or scientific consensus on the definition of mental impairments, dysfunction, or disorders. Further, our present knowledge and understanding about how structural and/or functional impairment may affect violent behavior does not allow us to assume that we lack the ability to form and intentionally execute various actions. Regardless of whether or not free will is an illusion, it is clear that the legal system can no longer ignore neuroscientific findings about the relationship between brain functions and violent behavior. Even if brain functions underlying all behaviors are causally determined, reliance on neuroscientific tests and/or neuroimaging techniques in particular, to assess complex legal concepts, is problematic, since neuroimaging techniques are bound to momentary states and can only demonstrate possible correlations between brain function and behavior.

Keywords:   cognitive functions, free will, violent behavior, mental impairments, neuroimaging techniques, legal system

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