The Brain and the Law


Much has been written about how law as an institution has developed to solve many problems that human societies face. Inherent in all of these explanations are models of how humans make decisions. This article discusses what current neuroscience research tells us about the mechanisms of human decision-making of particular relevance to law. This research indicates that humans are both more capable of solving many problems than standard economic models predict, but also limited in ways those models ignore. This article discusses how law is both shaped by our cognitive processes and also shapes them. The article considers some of the implications of this research for improving our understanding of how our current legal regimes operate and how the law can be structured to take advantage of our neural mechanisms to improve social welfare.