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MAPPING CORTICAL AREAS ASSOCIATED WITH LEGAL REASONING AND MORAL INTUITION

Oliver R. Goodenough
Jurimetrics
Vol. 41, No. 4 (SUMMER 2001), pp. 429-442
Published by: American Bar Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29762721
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
MAPPING CORTICAL AREAS ASSOCIATED WITH LEGAL REASONING AND MORAL INTUITION
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Abstract

The prevailing tools of legal scholarship have focused the study of law on questions of doctrine. Recent developments in cognitive neuroscience allow us to explore a different kind of problem: how people think when they apply law. First we must update the accepted model of cognition, replacing the unified Cartesian approach with a multicapacitied, "modular" view of the human mind. Such an approach suggests that the classic, apparently intractable, arguments between positive law and natural law adherents may reflect the workings of two separate mental capacities for judging human actions—the application of word-based rules on the one hand and of unarticulated understandings of justice on the other. This hypothesis need not remain just a plausible assertion. The techniques of functional neuroimaging provide an experimental means of testing it. A series of brainscanning experiments could reveal whether there are significant differences in the brain regions employed in using legal rules and moral intuition to judge human behavior, in the process helping us understand the neurological basis of the distinction between natural and positive law.

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