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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Why do we punish, and why do we forgive? Are these learned behaviors, or is there something deeper going on? This book argues that there is indeed something deeper going on, and that our essential response to the killers, rapists, and other wrongdoers among us has been programmed into our brains by evolution. Using evidence and arguments from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Morris B. Hoffman traces the development of our innate drives to punish - and to forgive - throughout human history. He describes how, over time, these innate drives became codified into our present legal systems and how the responsibility and authority to punish and forgive was delegated to one person - the judge - or a subset of the group - the jury. Hoffman shows how these urges inform our most deeply held legal principles and how they might animate some legal reforms.

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LibraryThing Review

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 Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury

User Review  - Lynne Maxwell - Book Verdict

Hoffman (law, Univ. of Colorado, Univ. of Denver), a trial judge for the Second Judicial District of the Colorado state court system, has stellar credentials for positing theories about the law, but ... 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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