Research group for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

Bergen Lecture 2015

Bergen Lecture 2015 takes place at the Faculty of Law, Thursday 12th of November from 10:00 to 12:00. This year's lecture is given by Professor Michael S. Moore.

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Bergen Lecture in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice is an annual lecture given at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen by a distinguished international expert of criminal law and criminal justice.

This year the lecture will be given by Professor Michael S. Moore of the University of Illinois College of Law. In his lecture, Professor Moore will address the subject "Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: The Challenges to Responsibility of Contemporary Neuroscience".

The lecture takes place on November 12th from 10:00 to 12:00 in auditorium 2 at the Faculty of Law.


"Both in popular consciousness and in scholarly circles the success of current neuroscientific research has been thought to challenge basic assumptions about justice-based legal institutions.  These challenges have been particularly directed at retributive or mixed retributive/utilitarian theories of the criminal law. 

The legal assumptions challenged in this way are about the psychological attributes the law supposes persons to have, attributes that make it fair to praise or blame, reward or punish, various kinds of human behavior.  These are typically assumptions of freedom, autonomy, rationality,  emotionality, consistent character structure, and the like. 

The challenges directed against these assumptions are as old as academic psychology, be that psychology introspective, psychoanalytic, behaviorist, genetic, or other.  These are the challenges of determinism (all human choices are caused by factors themselves unchosen), epiphenomenalism (no human choice causes the acts it seems to cause), physicalism (our minds are just complicated bits of dumb clockwork), and fallibilism (we have no privileged access to the contents of our own minds). 

But in the hands of contemporary neuroscientists these old challenges have taken on a new potency and a new persuasiveness. They have convinced many that legal institutions -- particularly those involving criminal punishment -- must change radically if they are to remain scientifically respectable.  The lecture critically assesses this conclusion."