Owen D. Jones

New York Alumni Chancellor's Chair in Law
Professor of Biological Sciences
Director, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience

Owen Jones’ work bridges law, biology and behavior. His scholarship deepens understandings of behaviors that law aims to regulate by integrating social science and life science perspectives. Professor Jones’ work, both empirical and theoretical, is published in scientific as well as legal venues. Holding joint academic appointments, he uses brain-imaging (fMRI), behavioral biology and behavioral economics to learn more about how the brain's varied operations affect behaviors relevant to law. Most recently, he co-discovered with colleagues at Vanderbilt the brain activity underlying decisions of whether to punish someone and, if so, how much. Professor Jones recently secured three grants from the MacArthur Foundation, totaling over five million dollars, to design, create and direct a new national Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. Before joining the legal academy, he clerked for Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and practiced law with the D.C. law firm Covington & Burling. He came to Vanderbilt from Arizona State University, where he was Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, professor of law, professor of biology, and Faculty Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology.


Selected Media Coverage of Scholarship


Research Interests

Law and behavioral biology, law and neuroscience, evolutionary analysis in law


Representative Publications

  • Law and Neuroscience (Aspen Publishers, forthcoming 2014) (with Jeffrey Schall and Francis Shen)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Law and Behavioral Biology," 105 Columbia Law Review 405 (2005) (with Timothy H. Goldsmith)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “Sorting Guilty Minds” 86 New York University Law Review 1306 (2011) (with F. Shen, M. Hoffman, J. Greene, R. Marois)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Intuitions of Punishment," 77 Chicago Law Review 1633 (2010) (with Robert Kurzban)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Time-Shifted Rationality and the Law of Law's Leverage: Behavioral Economics Meets Behavioral Biology," 95 Northwestern University Law Review 1141 (2001)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "The Origins of Shared Intuitions of Justice," 60 Vanderbilt Law Review 1633 (with Paul Robinson & Robert Kurzban) (2007)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “Brain Imaging for Legal Thinkers: A Guide for the Perplexed,” 5 Stanford Technology Law Review (2009) (with Buckholtz, Schall, and Marois)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "The Neural Correlates of Third-Party Punishment," 60 Neuron 930 (Dec. 10, 2008) (with Buckholtz, Asplund, Dux, Zald, Gore, and Marois) (Supplementary Data) [Read coverage of this article in the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and the New York Times Sunday Magazine]
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Evolution and the Expression of Biases: Situational Value Changes the Endowment Effect in Chimpanzees," 33 Evolution & Human Behavior 378 (2012) (with S. Brosnan, M. Gardner, S. Lambeth, and S. Schapiro)
  • "Endowment Effects in Chimpanzees," 17 Current Biology 1704 (2007) (with S.F. Brosnan, S. Lambeth, M.C. Mareno, A.S. Richardson & S.J. Schapiro) [Read coverage of this article in The Economist, June 19, 2008.]
    Full Text | SSRN