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Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited$
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Catelijne Coopman, Janet Vertesi, Michaeland Lynch, and Steve Woolgar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262525381

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262525381.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

How (Not) to Do Things with Brain Images

How (Not) to Do Things with Brain Images

Chapter:
(p.291) 14 How (Not) to Do Things with Brain Images
Source:
Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited
Author(s):

Joseph Dumit

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262525381.003.0014

The chapter examines the role of brain images and neuroscience arguments in a 2005 US Supreme Court case, Roper v. Simmons. The Court deliberated over whether the death penalty should be prohibited for individuals under the age of 18, and a group of lawyers, psychologists, and neuroscientists submitted a brief including brain scan evidence to support the argument that adolescents are morally immature. The chapter addresses the question whether neuroscience evidence can possibly demonstrate adolescent immaturity – a question that involves morally fraught categorical and conceptual judgments. The chapter critically examines comparisons between brain images in which false color mapping of regions is used together with scatterplots to show changes with age. While acknowledging the temptation to employ “neurorealism” in hopes of resolving questions about “adolescence”, “riskiness”, and “dangerousness”, the chapter suggests that yielding to this temptation threatens to undermine the very source of ‘scientific’ credibility that is mobilized for such purposes.

Keywords:   Brain images, Neuroscience, Adolescent immaturity, Death penalty

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