Nita Farahany, PhD
Professor of Law and Philosophy
The legal brainscape
Abstract: Recent scientific progress has dramatically advanced our understanding of the biological, neurological and environmental contributions to normal and deviant human behavior. Behavioral scientists have moved beyond purely descriptive scientific accounts to predictive ones by linking genetic and neurological variations to behavioral variations in the population. Growing societal and academic interest in the intersection between behavioral genetics, neuroscience and law is evident by the frequency with which major mainstream and academic publications feature articles on this topic.
This talk presents several of the more salient issues that arise from the intersection of law and neuroscience. It will include a discussion of the first comprehensive empirical study on the use of neuroscience in the U.S. criminal justice system. This flows inevitably into a discussion about the challenges neuroscience presents to normative determinations about responsibility and freedom underlying much of the U.S. legal system. Finally, some cutting-edge applications of the neuroscience of memory and conscious awareness to issues in law and public policy will be surveyed, including in the context of law enforcement investigations.
Bio: Nita A. Farahany is a Professor of Law & Philosophy at Duke Law School, the Director of Duke Science & Society, and the Faculty Director of the Duke MA in Bioethics and Science Policy. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and continues to serve as a member. She is a widely published scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of the biosciences and emerging technologies, and a frequent commentator for national media and radio shows. Farahany is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a Board member of both the International Neuroethics Society and the Center for Responsible Brainwave Technologies, a member of the Law and Ethics Advisory Panel (“LEAP”) as part of the Football Players Health Study ("FPHS") at Harvard University, a co-editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, and an editorial board member of the American Journal of Bioethics (Neuroscience). She is the recipient of the 2013 Paul M. Bator award given annually to an outstanding legal academic under 40. Farahany holds an AB (Genetics) from Dartmouth College, and an ALM (Biology) from Harvard University, and a JD, MA, and Ph.D. (Philosophy) from Duke University.