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Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?$
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Susan Pockett, William P. Banks, and Shaun Gallagher

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780262162371

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262162371.001.0001

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Truth and/or Consequences: Neuroscience and Criminal Responsibility

Truth and/or Consequences: Neuroscience and Criminal Responsibility

(p.277) 14 Truth and/or Consequences: Neuroscience and Criminal Responsibility
Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?

Leonard V. Kaplan

The MIT Press

This chapter examines whether consciousness causes or does not cause behavior in the context of the Western legal system. It considers the challenges presented by the new neuroscience literature for criminal jurisprudence, including the possibility that the claims of neuroscience will have an impact beyond what it purports to prove. For example, defense lawyers may try to use on behalf of their clients any findings of the new brain research that negate or diminish the attribution of criminal responsibility. The chapter looks at models of attributing criminal fault, whether existing theoretical models are so effective that a change in models of fault attribution would represent bad policy or social consequence, and why neuroscience poses a social threat. It analyzes the epiphenomenality of consciousness and legal excusing conditions, classical philosophy and responsibility, theological notions of responsibility and free will, and intent as an element of criminal fault. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Benjamin Libet’s views on moral and legal consciousness.

Keywords:   consciousness, behavior, neuroscience, criminal jurisprudence, criminal responsibility, criminal fault, philosophy, free will, intent, Benjamin Libet

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