In how far are neurological rehabilitation methods for criminal offenders compatible with the concept of human dignity?


  • Franziska Böhlke



In recent years neuroscience has experienced a drastic increase in popularity, driven by leaps of progress made in the field (Giordano, 2011, p. 412). By now, many interdisciplinary fields have emerged from it, two prominent examples being neurolaw and neuroethics (Shen, 2010, p. 352; Levy, 2008, p. 1). Neuroscience is nowadays also discussed in the context of the criminal justice system and may soon be used in the field of trial evidence, detecting biases in juries and judges, to make defendants competent for trial, and many other areas of the criminal law (Neurolaw: A video introduction). A very interesting field is rehabilitation of criminal offenders. The more neuroscience discovers about what is commonly termed the ‘criminal mind’, the more science attempts to find treatments that could help to correct deviant behaviour and reintegrate offenders into society (Greely, 2008, p. 1104). A number of direct as well as indirect methods of brain intervention are currently discussed in respect to their usefulness for this purpose. However, there are many caveats to such uses of brain intervention. This paper will deal with one of those caveats: the principle of human dignity. In this work, I wish to investigate in how far brain intervention for the purpose of rehabilitation of convicted criminal offenders is compatible with the notion of human dignity.


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