Neuroscience, moral reasoning, and the law

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Abstract

Modern advancements in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology have given neuroscientists the opportunity to more fully appreciate the brain's contribution to human behavior and decision making. Morality and moral reasoning are relative newcomers to the growing literature on decision neuroscience. With recent attention given to the salience of moral factors (e.g. moral emotions, moral reasoning) in the process of decision making, neuroscientists have begun to offer helpful frameworks for understanding the interplay between the brain, morality, and human decision making. These frameworks are relatively unfamiliar to the community of forensic psychologists, despite the fact that they offer an improved understanding of judicial decision making from a biological perspective. This article presents a framework reviewing how event–feature–emotion complexes (EFEC) are relevant to jurors and understanding complex criminal behavior. Future directions regarding converging fields of neuroscience and legal decision making are considered. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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