A new series on PBS started few days ago. In our life time, advancements in neuroscience will transform our judiciary system and our approach in determining guilt and punishment. Just few days ago, I was looking a neuroengineering-related title and found my way in the stacks of Harvard law. It seems that not only neuroscientist feel that their work will impact this discipline, but also that there are lawyers who equally believe in the convergence of the two. Later on, I mentioned this among an intimate group (also including two lawyers in training and an old-school established lawyer). The discussion was centerd on whether it is a good thing or bad one to bring quantified neuroscientific evidence to the practice of law and judiciary settings. My personal take on this issue is that it should not scare lawyers or judges that "neuroscientists will make these souleless machines that will sentence people without understanding the humane aspect of the issue". In fact, to the contrary, I believe that such evidence could complement other just like a fingerprint (for example) would do. And it is imperative that neuroscientists advocate that a) these methods will get better and better but are not meant to be used as the decision makers in the judiciary settings, b) they won’t be black and white soulless machines. The mind is probabilistic and so is our interpretation of its cognitive computation. Just by relying on them, there is a lesser likelihood that lawyers, jurors and judges would make a grave mistake.
See on brainsontrial.com