Responsibility and Emerging Neuroscience: The Viability of the American Law Institute's Insanity Defense
AuthorRomero, Christopher Ryan
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThere are five legal tests for insanity used in the United States today: the M'Naghten Test, the Irresistible Impulse Test, the Product Test, the America Law Institute (ALI) Test, and the Federal Test. Modem neuroscience has shown that using only the M'Naghten Test or the Irresistible Impulse Test gives a narrow understanding of mental health that ignores degrees of insanity. The Product Test is too broad and allows experts to overreach their boundaries and make legal conclusions. The Federal Test is simply a modification of the M'Naghten Test and does not recognize volitional components of insanity. I propose that the ALI Test become the standard test for insanity because it improves upon the criticisms of the M'Naghten, Irresistible Impulse, and Product Tests. However, ALI Test can be improved by clearly defining the ambiguous medical terms it uses. As neuroscience progresses, the legal system must adapt in order to keep pace, and I believe the ALI Test is the only existing test that leaves room for the ever-increasing knowledge of the brain.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law