Morse, Stephen J.

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Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Publication
    Hooked on Hype: Addiction and Responsibility
    (2000-01-01) Morse, Stephen
  • Publication
    Avoiding Irrational NeuroLaw Exuberance: A Plea for Neuromodesty
    (2011-01-01) Morse, Stephen
    "In a 2002 editorial published in The Economist, the following warning was given: "Genetics may yet threaten privacy, kill autonomy, make society homogeneous and gut the concept of human nature. But neuroscience could do all of these things first." The genome was fully sequenced in 2001, and there has not been one resulting major advance in therapeutic medicine since. Thus, even in its most natural applied domain-medicine-genetics has not had the far-reaching consequences that were envisioned. The same has been true for various other sciences that were predicted to revolutionize the law, including behavioral psychology, sociology, psychodynamic psychology, and others. This will also be true of neuroscience, which is simply the newest science on the block. Neuroscience is not going to do the terrible things The Economist fears, at least not for the foreseeable future. Neuroscience has many things to say but not nearly as much as people would hope, especially in relation to law. At most, in the near to intermediate term, neuroscience may make modest contributions to legal policy and case adjudication. Nonetheless, there has been irrational exuberance about the potential contribution of neuroscience, an issue I have addressed previously and referred to as "Brain Overclaim Syndrome." I first consider the law's motivation and the motivation of some advocates to turn to science to solve the very hard normative problems that law addresses. Part III discusses the law's psychology and its concepts of the person and responsibility. The next Part considers the general relation of neuroscience to law, which I characterize as the issue of "translation." Part V canvasses various distractions that have bedeviled clear thinking about the relation of scientific, causal accounts of behavior to responsibility. The following Part examines the limits of neurolaw and Part VII considers why neurolaw does not pose a genuinely radical challenge to the law's concepts of the person and responsibility. Part VIII makes a case for cautious optimism about the contribution neuroscience may make to law in the near and intermediate term. A brief conclusion follows..."
  • Publication
    Brain Overclaim Syndrome and Criminal Responsibility: A Diagnostic Note
    (2006-01-01) Morse, Stephen
    This brief diagnostic note identifies a cognitive pathology, "Brain Overclaim Syndrome [BOS]," that often afflicts those inflamed by the fascinating new discoveries in the neurosciences. It begins by suggesting how one should think about the relation of neuroscience (or any other material explanation of human behavior) to criminal responsibility, distinguishing between internal and external critiques based on neuroscience. It then describes the signs and symptoms of BOS, the essential feature of which is to make claims about the implications of neuroscience for criminal responsibility that cannot be conceptually or empirically sustained. It then applies the diagnostic lens of BOS to the claims in Roper v. Simmons. Finally, the article recommends Cognitive Jurotherapy [CJ] as the therapy of choice for BOS.
  • Publication
    Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, and Sentencing
    (2011-01-01) Morse, Stephen
    "Imagine a defendant who has been charged with murder, the intentional homicide of a victim he was robbing with a weapon. He has a history of three previous convictions and imprisonments for armed robbery. Prior to being released from the third term, he publicly threatened to kill any future armed robbery victims who might be able to identify him. When the current victim looked our armed robber in the eye, the robber said to the victim, "You looked the wrong way at the wrong guy," pulled the trigger, and killed the victim. (We know this because his accomplice has turned state's evidence and, unbeknownst to the robber, there was a witness who will corroborate the accomplice's evidence.) This is a desperate case. Assume that a lawyer has been assigned to defend the killer and she needs to discover evidence that will help her make an argument to defeat the charges against the defendant or that will help her seek mitigation at sentencing if the defendant is convicted. The lawyer is aware of the Caspi and colleagues (2002) study and its later replications that found a vastly increased risk for criminal behavior among males who had been subject to severe abuse as children and who had a genetic defect that caused an monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) deficiency. The lawyer is easily able to confirm from family members, teachers, and neighbors that the robber was severely abused as a child, and a genetic analysis confirms that the robber also has the specific defect associated with increased risk for crime..."
  • Publication
    Legal Regulation of Addictive Substances and Addiction
    (2012-01-01) Morse, Stephen
    The law regulates addiction in two primary ways: by limiting access to controlled substances and by criminal and civil law doctrines pertaining to addicts. This chapter first addresses the basic definitional and conceptual issues concerning addiction. Then it turns to the justification of substance regulation in the USA and public policy issues. It suggests that the right to use substances recreationally, even at the risk of negative consequences such as addiction, is weighty and that regulation of substances and addiction-related behavior by criminal law is problematic. Next, it considers whether addiction should be a mitigating or excusing condition for crime and whether addicts can be involuntarily civilly committed. It describes the current state of the law and proposes that, in most cases, addiction should not excuse criminal offending and addicts should not be civilly committed. A final section considers social and criminal justice policies that could alleviate the costs of addiction.
  • Publication
    Predicting the knowledge–recklessness distinction in the human brain
    (2017-03-21) Vilaresa, Iris; Wesley, Michael J.; Ahn, Woo-Young; Bonnie, Richard J.; Hoffman, Morris; Jones, Owen D.; Morse, Stephen J.; Yaffe, Gideon; Lohrenz, Terry; Montague, P. Read
    Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria. We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those risks possessed by the participants. Our results provide neural evidence of a detectable difference in the mental state of knowledge in contrast to recklessness and suggest, as a proof of principle, the possibility of inferring from brain data in which legally relevant category a person belongs. Some potential legal implications of this result are discussed.
  • Publication
    Brain and Blame
    (1996-07-01) Morse, Stephen
    This article addresses the law's concept of the person and its relation to responsibility and the excusing conditions. It demonstrates that causation of behavior in general, even pathological biological causation, is not itself and excuse and suggests that the incapacity for rationality is the genuline basis of moral and legal excuse. The paper concludes by applying its theses to the case of Spyder Cystkopf, a man with a confirmed subarachnoid cyst, who killed his wife during a heated argument with her.