My Brain Made Me Do It: Join Us for a Future Tense Event on Neuroscience and the Law

A woman looks at an fMRI image

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

The cornerstone of our legal system is free will: Anyone who is not insane is accountable for crimes ranging from tax evasion to murder. But an emerging body of science is challenging that notion, using brain scans and genetic testing to suggest that some people may be born criminals. Does neuroscience really support the idea that some people can’t help but break the law? What happens if we can detect criminal propensity in toddlers? Should criminals diagnosed as psychopaths spend less time in prison because it’s not their fault, or additional time because they are more likely to act again? And what happens to our basic legal framework if almost any defendant can say, “My brain made me do it”?

Join Future Tense on Monday, Oct. 22, at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., for a discussion on how scientific advances are affecting our judicial system. To learn more and to RSVP, visit the New America Foundation website.

Our speakers will include:

Stephen J. Morse, associate director, Center for Neuroscience & Society, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Kent Kiehl
, associate professor of psychology, University of New Mexico
Kayla Pope
, director of neurobehavioral research, Boys Town National Research Hospital
Sally Satel
, resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, and psychiatrist, Partners in Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling
Laura Helmuth
, science and health editor, Slate
Abigail Marsh
, assistant professor of Psychology, Georgetown University
Gary Marchant
, Lincoln professor of emerging technologies, law, and ethics, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Hank Greely
, director, Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, and director, Stanford Interdisciplinary Group on Neuroscience and Society
Jeff Rosen
, professor of law, George Washington University, and legal affairs editor, the New Republic

You can find the full agenda here.

Future Tense is a partnership of Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate.