“Cognitive Neuroscience and the Future of Punishment,” a talk by O. Carter Snead, Professor of Law, Notre Dame University Law School
A Hyatt Fund event cosponsored by the Law and Behavioral Biology Speaker Series, Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt Interdepartmental Student Group on Law and Neuroscience and the Vanderbilt Department of Psychology.
O. Carter Snead, an expert in public bioethics who is a professor at Notre Dame University Law School, will address the growing use of brain-imaging technology to explore the causes of morally, socially and legally relevant behavior, which is the subject of much discussion and controversy in scholarly and popular circles. The contours of a project to transform capital sentencing—both in principle and practice—have emerged from the efforts of cognitive neuroscientists in the courtroom and the public square. In the short term, these scientists seek to play a role in the process of capital sentencing by serving as mitigation experts for defendants, invoking neuroimaging research on the roots of criminal violence to support their arguments. Over the long term, these same experts and their like-minded colleagues hope to appeal to the recent findings of their discipline to embarrass, discredit and ultimately overthrow retributive justice as a principle of punishment. Taken as a whole, these short- and long-term efforts are ultimately meant to usher in a more compassionate and humane regime for capital defendants.
Professor Snead will analyze and provide a critique of this project based on its humanitarian aspirations, and explore the project’s implications in light of the mechanics of capital sentencing and the heterogeneous array of competing doctrinal rationales in which they are rooted. He researches in the area of public bioethics, the governance of science, medicine and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods. His scholarly works have explored issues relating to neuroethics, enhancement, stem cell research, abortion and end-of-life decision making. His articles have appeared in such publications as the New York University Law Review, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the Vanderbilt Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, Quaderni Costituzionali, the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics, the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and Political Science Quarterly.
In addition to his scholarship and teaching, Professor Snead has provided advice on the legal and public policy dimensions of bioethical questions to officials in all three branches of the U.S. government, and in several intergovernmental fora. Prior to joining the law faculty at Notre Dame, he served as general counsel to the President’s Council on Bioethics, where he was the primary drafter of the 2004 report, “Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies.” He served (along with Dr. Edmund Pellegrino) as the U.S. government’s Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI), where he assisted in its efforts to elaborate international instruments and standards for the ethical governance of science and medicine. In conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he regularly lectures to state and federal judges on the uses of neuroimaging in the courtroom. He was recently appointed by the Director-General of UNESCO to a four-year term on the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), a 36-member body of independent experts that advises member states on bioethics, law, and public policy which is currently the only bioethics commission in the world with a global mandate.
|Date: Mar 13, 2012|
Time: 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM