Principles of Neurojurisprudence

1.  Legal scholars should employ the insights of behavioral biology and related fields.

2.  Any approach to jurisprudence that contradicts scientific principles is invalid and worthless.

3.  The human brain, and thus human behavior, evolved in the same manner as physical characteristics, such as opposable thumbs and the eye.  The human brain evolved through natural selection by increasing reproductive success.

4.  Human behavior is based on both genetics and learning.  

5.  Because of this, behaviorism (the theory that all human behavior derives from cultural learning) is invalid.  Consequently, any jurisprudence that is based on behaviorism is illegitimate.

6.  Similarly, scientists have debunked the notion of the Blank Slate.  The self is not just a Blank Slate that society writes upon, but an individual whose mind is significantly created by biology.  Thus, any approach to jurisprudence that is predicated on the mind as a Blank Slate is invalid.

7.  Because human behavior is significantly shaped by biology, morality and law are not purely social constructs.  Morality and law developed to aid survival.

8.  Scientists have discovered hundreds of universals, such as including classification, crying, daily routines, envy, etiquette, facial expressions, jokes, language, law, leaders, logical notions, play, and social structure.  Universals also exist in the law, including a concept of fairness, distinguishing right and wrong, inheritance rules, murder proscribed, normal distinguished from abnormal states, property, rape proscribed, reciprocal exchanges of labor, goods, or services, redress of wrongs, and some forms of violence proscribed.

9.  The fundamentals of human behavior derived from how our brains evolved with the details of behavior arising from how a particular culture reacted to how differing geography, ecology, and social conditions affected survival.

10.  Because the foundation of human behavior is biological, strong moral relativism does not exist.  Since strong moral relativism is the basis of postmodern legal thought, postmodern approaches to jurisprudence are fallacious.

11.  What is natural is not necessarily good, and nature does not creates “musts.”  What was adaptive in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness may no longer be proper in modern life.  Obviously, violence was part of our evolutionary past, but this is not a trait that we want to encourage today.   However, biology limits what is morally possible, and it tells us about human motivation.  Moreover, it is easier to adopt a positive natural trait than repress it because it is part of the human behavioral system.  In other words, it is more efficient to enforce positive human traits, than repress them.

12.  Behavioral biology can protect against racism better than postmodern legal thought because it stresses the genetic similarities among racial groups and it shows that the mind is fundamentally the same in all humans.  It also stresses the importance of the individual and human dignity.  On the other hand, moral relativistic theories provide no protection against racism because under moral relativism anything goes.

13. Behavioral biology contradicts the argument that homosexuality is against nature.  On the other hand, homosexuality may have been an evolutionary advantage.  Close relatives of homosexuals may have been able to have more children as a result of their presence.

14. Human actions are not genetically predetermined.  Genes create a modular mind, and behavior derives from the interaction of these modules, which are often in conflict.  Furthermore, mental mechanisms help humans learn culture and how to react to the environment.

15.  Much of our law is based on how human behavior developed during the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness. For example, several scholars have shown how property rules developed to aid survival.  Similarly, this author has demonstrated how contract law developed from reciprocal altruism.

16.  Rights come not from God or externally from nature, but from human behavior–how our minds evolved.  These rights are anthropocentric rights.

Edwin Scott Fruehwald.  Neurojurisprudence Website.  

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Law & Human Behavior: A Study in Behavioral Biology, Neuroscience, and the Law by Edwin Scott Fruehwald  (Vandeplas Publishing 2011) (Barnes & Noble) (New)



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