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Neuroscience and Social Problems: The Case of Neuropunishment


Neuroscientific interventions are increasingly proposed as solutions for social problems, beyond their application in biomedicine. For example, there is increasing interest, particularly from outside commentators, in harnessing neuroscientific advances as an alternative method of punishing criminal offenders. Such neuropunishments are seen as a potentially more effective, less costly, and more humane alternative to incarceration, with overall better results for offender, communities, and societies. This article considers whether neuroscience as a field should engage more actively with such proposals, and whether more research should be done to explore the use of neurointerventions for punishment. It concludes that neuroscientists and those working at the intersection of neuroscience and the clinic should actively shape these debates.

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We thank an anonymous reviewer for her/his helpful comments and suggestions. We are also grateful to Mona Rudolf for her research assistance. The article was written while supported by the German Research Foundation (BU 2450/2-1).

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We thank an anonymous reviewer for her/his helpful comments and suggestions. We are also grateful to Mona Rudolf for her research assistance. The article was written while supported by the German Research Foundation (BU 2450/2-1).

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
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