The Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 14, 2014 - Law - 359 pages
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"Evolution built us to punish cheaters. Without that punishment instinct, we would never have been able to live in small groups, and would never have realized all the significant benefits that small-group living conferred, including mutual defense, cooperative hunting, property, divisions of labor and economies of scale. In fact, to a large extent our notions of right and wrong, of empathy and compassion, of fairness and justice, all come from the tensions of group living, and thus indirectly owe their very existence to punishment. It may sound strange that one key to civilization is our willingness to punish each other, but every parent knows it's true. Every parent also feels the irresistible pull not to punish too much, and in fact maybe not to punishat all - to forgive - and this, too, is a remnant of evolution. Our punishment instinct is not so much a sword ready to fall as it is a finely tuned balance, sometimes susceptible to the gentlest of breezes"--

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User Review  - Archivist13 - LibraryThing

I found much of this book to be extremely interesting, as I enjoy anything that deals in psychological inquiries. I enjoyed the earlier chapters that dealt with evolution, altruism, cooperation and ... Read full review


The Most Original of Original Sins
Detecting and Blaming
Conscience and Guilt
Retaliation and Revenge
Are WeJudging or Retaliating? 137 5 ThirdParty Punishment Retribution
Forgiveness and Its Signals
Delegating Punishment
Legal Dissonances
Evaluating Some Process Dissonances
Evaluating Some Substantive
Brains Punishing Brains

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About the author (2014)

Morris B. Hoffman is a trial judge for the Second Judicial District (Denver), State of Colorado. He is a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on Law and Neuroscience and is a Research Fellow at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, where he teaches courses on jury history and selection, law and neuroscience, and law and the biology of human nature. His law articles have appeared in many journals, including the law reviews of the University of Chicago, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, George Mason University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and Vanderbilt University. He has written op-eds on legal topics for several national newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. His scientific publications include papers in The Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions B and Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience. Judge Hoffman received his JD from the University of Colorado School of Law.

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