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My Brain Made Me Do It

The cornerstone of our legal system is free will: anyone who is not insane is accountable for crimes ranging from tax evasion to murder. But an emerging body of science is challenging that notion, using brain scans and genetic testing to suggest that some people may be born criminals. Does neuroscience really support the idea that some people can’t help but break the law? What happens if we can detect criminal propensity in toddlers? Should criminals diagnosed as psychopaths spend less time in prison because it’s not their fault, or additional time because they are more likely to act again? And what happens to our basic legal framework if almost any defendant can say, “My brain made me do it”?

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