Home » Events » Workshop: Genes, Brains and Responsibility

Workshop: Genes, Brains and Responsibility

May 12, 2015 - 9:00 am

Date and time: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 9:00am-2:00pm
Location: Board Room, NY State Psychiatric Institute, 6th floor, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032



9:00-9:20              Welcome, introductions, and goals of the meeting
Paul Appelbaum and Josephine Johnston

CEER research on BNP genetics and attributions of responsibility

9:20-10:00           Introduction to the Appelbaum-led research


How does Paul Appelbaum’s recent work fit with what else we are learning about the impact of science on ideas about responsibility?

10:00-10:40        Courts’ Increasing Consideration of Behavioral Genetics and Neuroscience Evidence in Criminal Cases: Results of Two Longitudinal Studies
Debbie Denno

10:40-10:50        Break

10:50-11:30        Exploring the Impact of Neuroscience and Genetics on Sentencing Decisions: a case for methodological pluralism and modesty
Teneille Brown

11:30-12:10        Genes, brains and intuitions about blame
Martha Farah

12:10-12:20        Boxed lunches

What does all this research add up to? Where does this leave us?

12:20-1:00           Ordinary Intuitions about Determinism and Free Will
Joshua Knobe

1:00-1:40              Culture, stigma and ‘What matters most’: Case Example of Chinese Groups and Genetic Attributions
Lawrence Yang

1:40-2:00              Final group discussion—what are the take home messages from the day and what are your suggested next steps?

Workshop Attendees

Teneille Brown, Professor of Law, SJ Quinney Law School, Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah

Debbie Denno, Arthur A. McGivney Professor of Law, Fordham University

Martha Farah, Walter H Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences, Professor of Psychology, Director of Center for Neuroscience and Society, University of Pennsylvania

Joshua Knobe, Professor, Program of Cognitive Science, Department of Philosophy, Yale University

Lawrence Yang, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University

Nick Scurich, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, and Criminology, Law & Society at University of California, Irvine

Deacon Ken Radcliff, Church of Saint Charles Borromeo, Harlem, New York

Gloria Williams

Vivian Taylor, Associate Dean for Diversity and Cultural Affairs, Columbia University School of Nursing

Kathryn Tabb, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Millie Solomon, President, The Hastings Center

Paul Appelbaum, CEER PI, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, Columbia University

Elizabeth Gross Cohn, Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar, Associate Director, Community Engagement Core Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Co-Chair Patient-Centered Outcomes/ Comparative Effectiveness Research Initiative, Columbia University

Harold Edgar, Julius Silver Professor in Law, Science, and Technology, Columbia University

Abby Fyer, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University

Carolyn Genovesi, Legal Counsel, New York State Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District of the Appellate Division, Second Department

Laura Hercher, Director of Student Research, Joan H. Marks Human Genetics Program, Sarah Lawrence College

Josephine Johnston, Director of Research and Research Scholar, The Hastings Center

Martine Lappé, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Research on Ethical, Legal & Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic and Behavioral Genetics, Columbia University

Jamie Levey, Director of Business Development, CHDI Foundation, Inc.

Alondra Nelson, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University

Ruth Ottman, Professor of Epidemiology (in Neurology and the Sergievsky Center), Deputy Director for Research, Sergievsky Center, Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute

Erik Parens, Senior Research Scholar, The Hastings Center

Maya Sabatello, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Research on Ethical, Legal & Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic and Behavioral Genetics, Columbia University

Rachel Yarmolinsky, Director of Media Relations and Marketing, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute



Appelbaum, Paul S., Nicholas Scurich, and Raymond Raad. “Effects of Behavioral Genetic Evidence on Perceptions of Criminal Responsibility and Appropriate Punishment,” (forthcoming Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2015).

Appelbaum, Paul S., and Nicholas Scurich. “Impact of behavioral genetic evidence on the adjudication of criminal behavior.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online 42.1 (2014): 91-100.

Denno, Deborah W. “Genetics: overview of United States criminal law.” In Provolo, Riondata and Yenisey (ed.s), Genetics, Robotics, Law, Punishment (Padova University Press, 2015), pp. 369-410.

Denno, Deborah W. “The Myth of the Double-Edged Sword: An Empirical Study of Neuroscience Evidence in Criminal Cases.” Boston College Law Review 56 (2015): 493-551.

Aspinwall, Lisa G., Teneille R. Brown, and James Tabery. “The double-edged sword: Does biomechanism increase or decrease judges’ sentencing of psychopaths?” Science 337.6096 (2012): 846-849.

Farah, Martha J., and Cayce J. Hook. “The seductive allure of “seductive allure”.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 8.1 (2013): 88-90.

Knobe, Joshua, “Free Will and the Scientific Vision,” in Edouard Machery and Elizabeth O’Neill (eds.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy (forthcoming Routledge)

Yang, Lawrence H, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Hiroki Kotabe, Bruce G. Link, Anne Sawe, Gloria Wong, and Jo C. Phelan. “Culture, threat, and mental illness stigma: identifying culture-specific threat among Chinese-American groups.” Social Science & Medicine 88 (2013): 56-67.