Blog Glob: "Mirror Neurons, the New Neuroscience, and the Law: Some Preliminary Observations"
Posted Sep 06 2010 12:00am
V.S. Ramachandran has written that we are in the midst of a new revolution of scientific thought: the neuroscience revolution. Since 1995, a group of scientists have studied what they refer to as "mirror neurons," certain nerve cells in the brain that enable a person to see the world from another person's perspective. These scientists believe that mirror neurons may provide a neurobiological explanation for precisely how humans empathize.
This Essay first applies this insight to the role of empathy in judging. The concept of mirror neurons shows that the issue is not whether empathy has a role in judging, but rather how significant a role empathy actually plays. In reaching judicial decisions, "reason" and "emotion" complement, rather than oppose, one another. As Jonah Lehrer has stated, "Reason without emotion is impotent." Mirror neurons provide a tool for