Law Course Catalog

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7912. Law, Consciousness, and Free Will

3.00 credits

Prerequisites: None.

Grading Basis: Graded

Many parts of the typical legal system - contract law, criminal law. testamentary succession law - presuppose free will. Recent scientific research on elementary particles, mirror neurons in the brain, and other topics may have implications concerning the possibility or nature of free will. This course considers a selection of these and other scientific developments and their relevance to the foundations of law. In particular, organic brain damage that causes criminal behavior appears to absolve a defendant from responsibility. The law slides easily from damage to abnormality, and with increasing understanding of the brain more or less tautologically will attribute more and eventually all aberrant behavior to abnormality. Again, what brain states and mental states are and how they relate to may affect issues in criminal law and the law of evidence. A unifying explanation of these matters may therefore shed light on these legal areas.