Saturday, April 24, 2010

Neuroscience in the Courtroom - The End of Free Will?

I knew this day was coming, and it seems to have arrived. There have been a series of recent posts around the Web dealing with the use of misuse of neuroscience data in the courtroom. The abilities of neuroscience and brain scans to reveal previously "hidden" elements of the mind in vivid images is about to change (maybe) the way we understand free will, personal responsibility, and criminal guilt.

Is someone "guilty" in the legal sense if they have a brain abnormality that can be shown to jurors as mitigating circumstances? Where does free will come in if many (maybe most) of our decisions are made at a pre-conscious level of the mind?

First up, an interview with the frighteningly young (22 years old and TWO books already?) Eliezer Sternberg, author of My Brain Made Me Do It, from Scientific American Mind.

'My Brain Made Me Do It'

A 22-year-old author discusses the threat that brain science poses to our concept of free will

Eliezer Sternberg
Courtesy of E. Sternberg

At age 22, Eliezer Sternberg has just published his second book on neuroscience and philosophy: “My Brain Made Me Do It,” now out from Prometheus Books. In it, he argues that our growing understanding of how the brain works does not mean the end of moral responsibility. Rather, he sees free will as a special property that emerges from more basic brain functions. A student at Tufts Medical School, he took time out from his first-year exams to talk with Mind Matters co-editor Carey Goldberg.

Q: Moral responsibility has been in the news most recently as people discussed the Tiger Woods scandal. How do you see his case?

A: Tiger Woods does take full responsibility and he should take full responsibility. Some have considered the possibility that his serial adultery was caused by the fact that he had no control over his libido—that he did not act of his own free will. But unless neurologists confirm substantial damage to his frontal lobe, his ability to freely make decisions was intact and he could have taken measures to control his tendencies. He has free will, and is morally responsible.

Q: In your book you say that recent developments in neuroscience seem to cast increasing doubt on our concept of free will. What findings seem to most threaten it?

A: The work of [the late University of California, San Francisco physiologist] Benjamin Libet -- which is itself not very recent but is still being pursued by other researchers. He found in lab experiments that the brain begins initiating an action before the person has actually decided to take that action. That very stark example really makes you think.

Q: What do you consider the most powerful counter-argument to Libet’s findings?

A: That argument is based on the idea of a “readiness potential” that appears 350 milliseconds before the conscious decision of an action is declared. But my argument would be that there’s really no way of knowing that this potential -- which is just a brainwave, actually -- is the brain beginning to take the action. It’s an assumption made, but for all we know, it could be associated with thousands of different processes.

Q: So how would you sum up your own conclusions about how we can reconcile the accumulating findings in neuroscience with the concept of free will?

A: I believe that, over time, traditional neuronal and biochemical accounts of the mind will run their course—they will try to explain as much as they can, but will fall short of accounting for human consciousness. There will still be more to explain. At this point, researchers will have to search for new kinds of explanations that are unprecedented in other scientific fields.

Q: So you’re saying free will is qualitatively different from the rest of the workings of the brain, which are more mechanistic?

A: Yes. But I think it’s still based in the brain’s mechanical architecture. It’s not a separate entity but it’s an emergent property of the mechanism of the brain.

Q: You are 22. What do you reasonably expect to see in your lifetime in terms of unraveling this question of what the brain has to say about free will vs. determinism?

A: I think that the trend will move further and further into thinking that free will does not exist. Two factors will push that belief. First: There will be more complete accounts of how decisions or behaviors arise from cellular connections in the brain. And second, the incredible expansion of brain-related technologies, including intelligence drugs, and cortical implants, which would have electrodes plugged into various areas of the brain to stimulate or suppress feeling and ideas. I think this merging of mind and mechanism is going to get people thinking more and more along these lines. We’ll see machines and human behavior and see them interacting, so we’ll assume it’s the same kind of system, just one’s made out of flesh and the other’s made out of silicon. I wrote the book to say that all that doesn’t matter, because there’s a fundamental gap that none of that will breach.

Q: What future do you foresee for legal defenses based on “My Brain Made Me Do It?”

A: I think that neuroscience is expanding incredibly quickly and when the field really does reach its apex, I do think that major legal questions will become relevant as more and more scientists become convinced that the brain is controlling more than we assumed in the past.

Q: How might a deterministic neuroscience affect the way we view criminals?

A: If I’m wrong, and all our behaviors are completely controlled by neuronal processes beyond our control, that would mean that our concept of morality doesn’t make any sense and there seems to be no way to hold people responsible for anything.

Q: In fact, in our society, we do have highly deterministic neuroscience, which enjoys quite a bit of respect, and yet our courts do keep the concept of personal responsibility pretty intact. Something doesn’t quite jibe.

A: You are right when you say we already have pretty deterministic neuroscience but that is known by few people. Once science and technology make the perceived determinism of neuroscience more concrete, that is when people are going to start questioning whether our legal system and our concepts of crime and punishment are justified. Obviously, I think it is justified but there will be people who don’t think that.

Q: It does seem like a collision is coming, but for now they’re separate.

A: I’m not the kind of person who can compartmentalize ideas that way. I need to believe something consistent and go with it. So it was pretty hard for me when I was working in various neuroscience labs and would ask questions about free will and personal identity. Anyone I asked would simply brush it off, and say ‘Oh, we don’t deal with that kind of stuff here, this is a laboratory. We deal with serious things.’ It made for fewer people to talk with.

~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S): Tufts Medical School student Eliezer Sternberg is author of "My Brain Made Me Do It" and "Are You a Machine?"
Psychology Today briefly reviews the book and expands on the idea of free will in the law.

My brain made me do it: Do we have free will?

Will brain research change our concept of free will?

As scientists continue to explore how the brain works, it seems likely that new findings will radically alter the traditional understanding of human nature and that will have enormous implications for the legal system and the workplace. One aspect of human nature being questioned by brain science is the concept of free will. The essential question is: Is our feeling of self-control merely an illusion created by our brains? If the answer is yes, what happens to our understanding of free will and moral responsibility?

Eliezer Sternberg of Tufts University School of Medicine, and author of My Brain Made Me Do It: The Rise Of Neuroscience And The Threat To Moral Responsibility, explains theories of determinism and free will in light of brain research.

Sternberg says that if we believe in the concept of free will--either by nature or nurture--and we feel we are responsible for our choices, then we are able to established accepted rules of conduct. However, if we have no choices and are, therefore, not responsible for our actions, then all law is superfluous. The only reason people could behave a certain way is that they can't help it--their brains made them do it.

Neuroscience research on people with Parkinson's, Tourette's and Schizophrenia reveals the brain's control over the behavior of those individuals afflicted by those conditions, affecting their free will and choices. What if the same is true for criminals? For "normal" people?

Already there are lawyers preparing defenses for clients accused of serious crime, citing brain evidence which potentially could turn the history of what constitutes guilt. The principles outlining criminal intent were first enunciated by the McNaughton rule, created in the 1800s in the U.S., which states that a person is not guilty of a crime because of a disease of the mind that prevented the person from knowing the nature and quality of the act or did not know it was wrong. The McNaughton rule have been modified only slightly in the Criminal Code of Canada.

If further neuroscience research determines that peoples' brains, particularly the unconscious and emotional parts of those brains, determine choices and behavior without either their knowledge or conscious control, the entire world of relationships between managers and employees, and the judicial system could be turned upside down. It will be, to say the least, an interesting development.

Ray B. Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Phoenix and Vancouver, providing leadership training, personal growth and executive coaching services.

Over at the Time Online (UK), Raymond Tallis takes a hard look at the dubious rise of neurolaw. This article actually comes from 2007, but it is very relevant to the current conversation.

Why blame me? It was all my brain’s fault

Imagine this futuristic courtroom scene. The defence barrister stands up, and pointing to his client in the dock, makes this plea: “The case against Mr X must be dismissed. He cannot be held responsible for smashing Mr Y’s face into a pulp. He is not guilty, it was his brain that did it. Blame not Mr X, but his overactive amygdala.”

The legal profession in America is taking an increasing interest in neuroscience. There is a flourishing academic discipline of “neurolaw” and neurolawyers are penetrating the legal system. Vanderbilt University recently opened a $27 million neuroimaging centre and hopes to enrol students in a programme in the law and neuroscience. In the courts, as in the trial of serial rapist and murderer Bobby Joe Long, brain-scan evidence is being invoked in support of pleas of diminished responsibility. The idea is abroad that developments in neuroscience – in particular the observation of activity in the living brain, using techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging – have shown us that we are not as free, or as accountable for our actions, as we traditionally thought.

Defence lawyers are licking their lips at the possibility of (to use law professor Jeffrey Rosen’s succinct phrase) placing “the brain on the stand” to take the rap on behalf of the client. Though they failed to cut much ice in Long’s case, arguments that blame lies not with the defendant but with his overactive amygdala (supposedly responsible for aggressive emotions) or his underactive frontal lobes (supposedly responsible for inhibiting the expression of such emotions) are being deployed with increasing frequency. If our brains are in charge, and bad behaviour is due to them, our attitude to criminal responsibility, to punishment (the balance between rehabilitation and retribution) and to preventive detention of individuals thought to have criminal tendencies may all have to change.

Before we invest millions in “neurolaw” centres, however, we need to remind ourselves that observations of brain activity in the laboratory can explain very few things about us. We have no neural explanation for: sensations; the differences between sensations; the way our consciousness coheres at any particular time and over time; our relationship to an explicit past and an explicit future; our sense of being a self; and our awareness of other people as having minds like ourselves. All of these are involved in ordinary, waking behaviour. The confident assertion that “his brain made him do it”, except in well-attested cases – such as the automatisms associated with certain forms of epilepsy or the disinhibited behaviour that may follow severe brain injury – therefore goes beyond our current knowledge or understanding.

Those who blame the brain should be challenged as to why they stop at the brain when they seek the causes of bad behaviour. Since the brain is a physical object, it is wired into nature at large. “My brain made me do it” must mean (ultimately) that “The Big Bang” made me do it. Neuro-determinism quickly slides into determinism tout court.

And there is a contradiction built into the plea of neuromitigation. The claim “my brain made me do it” suggests that I am not my brain; even that my brain is some kind of alien force. One of the founding notions of neurolaw, however, is that the person is the brain. If I were my brain, then “My brain made me do it” would boil down to “I made me do it” and that would hardly get me off the hook. And yet, if I am not identical with my brain, why should a brain make me do anything? Why should this impersonal bit of matter single me out?

The brain is, of course, the final common pathway of all actions. You can’t do much without a brain. Decapitation is, in most instances, associated with a decline in IQ.

Nevertheless, there is a difference between events that owe their origin to the stand-alone brain – for example the twitching associated with an epileptic fit – and actions that do not. While we do not hold someone responsible for an epileptic fit, we do hold them responsible for driving against medical advice and causing a fatal crash. The global excuse “my brain made me do it” would reduce life to a condition of status epilepticus.

In practice, most brain-blamers are not prepared to deny everyone’s responsibility for anything and everything. While the brain is blamed for actions that attract moral disapprobation or legal sanction, people do not normally pass responsibility on to their brains for good actions or for neutral actions such as pouring a cup of tea or just getting up for a stretch after a long sit down. When asked why he is defending a particular client, a barrister is unlikely to say: “My brain made me do it, your honour.” This pick-and-mix neuro-determinism is grounds for treating a plea of “neuro-mitigation” with caution.

So we still retain the distinction between events such as epileptic fits that can be attributed to brain activity and those that we attribute to persons who are more than mere neural activity. Deciding on the boundaries of our responsibility for events in which we are implicated cannot be handed over to neuroscientists examining the activity of the isolated brain in the laboratory. As Stephen Morse, a professor of law, has reminded us, it is people, not brains, who commit crimes and “neuroscience . . . can never identify the mysterious point at which people should be excused responsibility for their actions”. That moral, legal question must be answered not in laboratories but in courtrooms and legislatures.

Meanwhile, the neuromitigation of blame has to be treated with suspicion except in those instances where there is unambiguous evidence of grossly abnormal brain function or abnormal mental function due to clearcut illness that may have its origin in brain disease. Our knowledge of the relationship between brain and consciousness, brain and self, and brain and agency is so weak and so conceptually confused that the appeal to neuroscience in the law courts, the police station or anywhere else is premature and usually inappropriate. And, I would suggest, it will remain both premature and inappropriate. Neurolaw is just another branch of neuromythology.

Meanwhile, over at All in the Mind, Natasha Mitchell talks about The Brain on Trial with:

Dr James Brewer
Assistant Professor, Radiology and Neurosciences
University of California San Diego

Henry (Hank) Greely
Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law
Director, Center for Law and the Biosciences
Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics, Stanford School of Medicine
Chair, California's Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee
Co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project
Stanford University

Dr Michael Rafii
Memory Disorders Clinic
UCSD Perlman Ambulatory Care Center in La Jolla
Assistant Professor of Neurosciences
University of California, San Diego

Judge Luis Rodriguez
Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Orange
(The link above is to a PDF file)

Robert G. Knaier
Latham & Watkins
San Diego, USA

The Brain on Trial

The brain is on trial, and you be the judge. In a hypothetical murder case featuring a real judge, real neuroscientists and real lawyers - a brain scan image is presented as evidence. What unfolds could be coming to a courtroom near you. Stanford law professor Hank Greely is concerned neuroscience is being exploited by the law before it's fully baked.

Show Transcript

Further Information

The All in the Mind blog - and for comments and discussion (extra audio and info)
Includes the full text of the hypotheical case in this mock trial.
Join Natasha Mitchell in the All in the Mind blog. You can add comments there, or directly here on the webpage too (It's easy! Just look for Add Your Comment).

The Brain on Trial: Neuroscience Evidence in the Courtroom
Mock trial held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, 2010.

The Law and Neuroscience Project, USA

You are not your brain scan! - Adelaide Festival of Ideas
Public lecture given by All in the Mind presenter Natasha Mitchell at the 2009 Adelaide Festival of Ideas

Addiction, free will and self control
Heard the one about the psychiatrist, the Supreme Court judge and the philosopher who walked in to a radio studio...? Join Natasha Mitchell and guests in a roundtable interrogation of how the brain sciences are changing our understanding of addiction, and the powerful consequences for notions of free will, responsibility and culpability. Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2009

Neuroscience and the Law
Brain scanning indicates that certain frontal lobe abnormalities might be linked to certain forms of antisocial or criminal behaviour. But what are the legal implications of this? A debate from the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National in 2002.

Mind Reading (Part 1 of 2): Neuroscience in the witness stand
'But officer, my brain made me do it!' Brain scans are becoming commonplace as evidence in US courts, in the bid to convict offenders or free them. But is the technology half-baked? Can we biologically categorise people as criminals -- mad, bad and dangerous to know? Free will, privacy and personal responsibility are all up for grabs in the collision between science and the law. Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2007.

Mind Reading (Part 2 of 2): The rise of mental surveillance
Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2007.

Neuroethics and the 21st Century Brain
Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2005

You are not your brain scan! Critical reporting on the mind sciences
The Brain. It's been called the final frontier of science. Colourful fMRI scans light up our TV screens and newspapers promising to reveal the secrets of the psyche. From the search for the brain's God Spot, to the rapid rise of neuroeconomics, neuromarketing and neuroethics - makes for sexy headlines - but have journalists become blinded by the lights and allure of the brain scan? Are we telling too simplistic a story about the human self? Join Natasha Mitchell at the World Conference of Science Journalists with award-winning science journalists Deborah Blum (USA) and Jonica Newby, and Professor Fred Mendelsohn, Director of the Howard Florey Institute. Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2007

Michael Gazzaniga: Split brains and other heady tales
One of the big names of the brain is Michael Gazzaniga, whose career was forged in the lab of Nobel laureate Roger Sperry. His striking experiments continue to uncover the differences between your left and right hemispheres. Today he's on the US President's Bioethics Council, heads up a major project on neuroscience and the law, and is a prolific writer of popular neuroscience. He joins Natasha Mitchell to reflect on the brain's left and right, and the mysterious nature of free will. Broadcast on All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, 2008.


Title: Neuroscience-Based Lie Detection: The Urgent Need for Regulation
Author: Henry T. Greely and Judy Illes
Publisher: 33 American Journal of Law & Medicine 377 (2007).

Title: The Social Consequences of Advances in Neuroscience: Legal Problems; Legal Perspectives
Author: Henry T. Greely (in Neuroethics: Defining the Issues In Theory, Practice and Policy, Judy Illes, ed.)
Publisher: Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005.


Natasha Mitchell

This comes from the All in the Mind Blog:

The Brain on be the judge

Greely Law professor Henry (Hank) Greely features on All in the Mind this week. Catch the audio, transcript and plenty of related information and shows from the archive on the program website.

He contributed to a mock trial held at this year's American Association of the Advancement of Science meeting in San Diego...which I include excerpts of in the show.

Here's an extra part of my discussion with Hank as it heads into philosophical territory, with themes like: What place do notions of free will have in the courts and in sentencing? Who drives your actions? What is the 'you' inside your head?


And, I thought you might be interested in reading, in full, the hypothetical scenario the players in the mock trial (a real judge, and 2 real neuroscientists and lawyers) were asked to consider on the day.

I thought the neuroscientists were especially generous standing up in front of an audience of their scientist peers to try their hand at being expert witnesses. Nerve-wracking.

It went like this:

"On January 21, 2009 between the hours of 6 and 7 pm, Jane Owens (age 37) was killed in her downtown 2-bedroom apartment. Neighbours investigated after Jane's 12 year old daughter, Careen, knocked on their door in search of a spare key. Jane was found unconscious on the kitchen floor with significant head trauma and was pronounced dead soon after reaching the hospital.

Investigators determined that Jane was struck with a heavy iron skillet, found beside her when ambulance personnel arrived. Police suspect a struggle since bruise and scratch marks were found on her arms. They have arrested Will Johnson (age 32) for her murder. The accused lived directly under Ms. Owens' apartment and police found his fingerprints throughout the crime scene as well as on the murder weapon. Upon further investigation, Careen's spare key was found in his apartment and Jane's DNA under his nails.

Neighbours report that the two dated briefly the previous year and were often seen entering and leaving the building together, but Jane broke it off and was planning to move across town in coming weeks. Since then, the two often argued in the lobby and outside her apartment door.

Raised voices, Jane and Will's, were heard coming from Jane's apartment the evening of the murder. When asked about her mother's relationship with Will, Careen told officers that Will often loitered outside their apartment and begged her mother to take him back. She blamed their break up on his aggression, clinginess and moody behaviours, even becoming angered when Jane chose to spend time with Careen instead of him. Careen also listed him as one of the main reasons for their move across town.

When questioned, the landlord admitted to telling Will about Jane's upcoming move when they passed in the hall that afternoon, and that he seemed "perturbed" at the news. Will's neighbours reported seeing him stomp upstairs around 6:00 and heard him return to his apartment not long before police arrived."

AAAS_brain_on_trial Thanks to the crew at AAAS for such an interesting session....the mock trial format was a clever vehicle for discussing how the evolving field of neuroscience is being utilised in the courts...and what a mind-field the increasingly prospects of that is.

Read MIT graduate student Jen Leslie's take on the proceedings here and John Timmer offers his thoughts for Ars Technica here ...on what was not you average trial, in not your average court room!

And if you're itching to sleuth further, have a look at this interesting feature by Virginia Hughes in Nature about the case of Brian Dugan and the research of neuroscientist Kent Kiehl.

"After reading about Kiehl's work in The New Yorker, Dugan's lawyers asked Kiehl to testify and offered him the chance to scan the brain of a notorious criminal. Kiehl agreed and Dugan's case became what is thought to be the first in the world to admit fMRI as evidence. Kiehl's decision has put him at odds with many in his profession, and stirred debate among neuroscientists and lawyers.

"It is a dangerous distortion of science that sets dangerous precedents for the field," says Helen Mayberg, a neurologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Mayberg, who uses brain imaging to study depression, has testified against the use of several kinds of brain scan in dozens of cases since 1992".

Thoughts could be on a jury of a case just like this any time soon.

Finally, back in 2007, posted Battle of Ideas: My Brain Made Me Do It.
Battle of Ideas: My Brain Made Me Do It at the 2007 Battle of Ideas conference hosted by the Institute of Ideas.

With the politics of behaviour in the ascendancy, there is increasing interest in what science can tell us about why people behave the way they do. The British government is funding the creation of the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners, with the express aim of training a 'parenting workforce' to provide science-based child-rearing advice to parents. In the USA, the MRI scanner and the neuroscientific community are entering the court room to give evidence about whether defendants can be regarded as being responsible for their alleged crimes. UK policymakers cite scientific 'evidence' to explain new interventions on everything from early years' education to the alleged impact of school dinners on academic performance. The science of nutrition now informs earnest discussions about how children's diets improve their classroom behaviour, in order to justify policing lunchboxes and putting school meals at the top of the political agenda. Studies of teenage brain development now regularly inform social debates about the impact of new technologies on young people.

But how much can science tell us about behaviour? Do scientific findings justify the government's many interventions into the early years of children's lives? Should neuroscience enjoy an exalted place in the courtroom? Are policies being developed because of genuine advances in scientific knowledge - or is science being (mis)used,
perhaps in the place of political conviction, to justify policies?
* * * * *
Pierre J. Magistretti has made significant contributions in the field of brain energy metabolism over the course of sixteen years it the Department of Physiology at the University of Lausanne Medical School (the last three as co-chairman) and in his current role as Professor of Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Brain-Mind Institute at EPFL and Director of the Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience at the University of Lausanne Medical School and Hospital (CHUV). His group discovered some of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the coupling between neuronal activity and energy consumption by the brain. This work has considerable ramifications for the understanding of the origin of the signals detected with the current functional brain imaging techniques used in neurologic and psychiatric research. The group directed by Pierre J. Magistretti consists of 20 scientists, over two thirds of which are supported by grants awarded on a peer-review basis (eg Swiss National Science Foundation, European Community). He is the author of over 140 articles published in peer reviewed journals. Over the last six years he has given over 50 invited lectures at international meetings or at universities in Europe and North America, including the 2000 Talairach Lecture at the Functional Mapping of the Human Brain Conference. He was the recipient of the 1997 Theodore-Ott Prize of the Swiss Academy for Medical Sciences and in 2001 was elected member of Academia Europeae (Physiology and Medicine). In 2003 he was elected ad personam member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

David Perks has taught in state schools for over 20 years and is a passionate defender of academic science education. His critique of the new school science curriculum published in What is science education for? provoked the front page headline in The Times - Science elite rejects new GCSE as 'fit for the pub'. David writes more broadly on education and the relationship between science and society. His interests range from environmentalism to intelligent design. David originated the Institute of Ideas and Pfizer Debating Matters sixth form debating competition

Jeffrey Rosen is a professor of law at George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic. A widely read legal commentator, his most recent book is The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America, a companion book to the PBS series on the Supreme Court.

He is also the author of The Most Democratic Branch, The Naked Crowd, and The Unwanted Gaze.

A graduate of Harvard College, Oxford University, and Yale Law School, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and his essays and commentaries have appeared in the New York Times Magazine and The Atlantic, as well as on National Public Radio.

Raymond Tallis was trained at the University of Oxford and St Thomas's Hospital, qualifying in 1970. He was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford (1987-2006).

He had responsibility for acute and rehabilitation patients and took part in the on call rota for acute medical emergencies. He also ran a unique specialist epilepsy service for older people. In 2000 he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences; in 2002 he was awarded the Dhole Eddlestone Prize for his contribution to the medical literature on elderly people; in 2006 received the Founders Medal of the British Geriatrics Society; and in 2007 the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. His national roles have included: Consultant Advisor in Health Care of the Elderly to the Chief Medical Officer; a key part in developing National Service Framework for Older People, in particular the standard on stroke; membership of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Appraisal Committee; and Chairmanship of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Ethics in Medicine. Outside his medical career, he has been awarded two honorary degrees: DLitt (Hon Causa) from the University of Hull in 1997; and LittD (Hon Causa) from the University of Manchester in 2002. In 2004 he was identified in Prospect magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the United Kingdom. In the first half of 2008, he has books coming out on Parmenides (Continuum), the head (Atlantic) and hunger (Acumen). His numerous medical publications include two major textbooks, while most of his research publications are in the field of neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation. He has also published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and over a dozen books and 150 articles on the philosophy of the mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism.

Steve Yearley is Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge at Edinburgh University. He is primarily interested in environmental sociology and the social and cultural aspects of science. In recent years he has concentrated on the social aspects of human genetics and in 2006 he was appointed Director of the Genomics Forum at Edinburgh University. His publications include Sociology, Environmentalism, Globalization (London: Sage 1996), Making Sense of Science: Understanding the Social Study of Science (London: Sage 2005), Cultures of Environmentalism: Empirical Studies in Environmental Sociology (Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan 2005) and The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology (London: Sage 2006, co-authored with Steve Bruce)

What do you think? Does the new information coming from research in neuroscience obviate some elements of free will? Should the court hear evidence regarding brain scans, neurotransmitter deficits, and so on?

1 comment:

Steve said...

If, as Sternberg says, Tiger could have taken measures to control his tendencies, why didn't he?