© 2019

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism and Neuroscience


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 1-13
  3. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 39-67
  4. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 69-96
  5. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 97-118
  6. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 119-150
  7. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 199-238
  8. Jay Schulkin
    Pages 239-273
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 303-355

About this book


This book explores the cultures of philosophy and the law as they interact with neuroscience and biology, through the perspective of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Jr., and the pragmatist tradition of John Dewey. Schulkin proposes that human problem solving and the law are tied to a naturalistic, realistic and an anthropological understanding of the human condition. The situated character of legal reasoning, given its complexity, like reasoning in neuroscience, can be notoriously fallible. Legal and scientific reasoning is to be understood within a broader context in order to emphasize both the continuity and the porous relationship between the two.

Some facts of neuroscience fit easily into discussions of human experience and the law. However, it is important not to oversell neuroscience: a meeting of law and neuroscience is unlikely to prove persuasive in the courtroom any time soon. Nevertheless, as knowledge of neuroscience becomes more reliable and more easily accepted by both the larger legislative community and in the wider public, through which neuroscience filters into epistemic and judicial reliability, the two will ultimately find themselves in front of a judge. A pragmatist view of neuroscience will aid and underlie these events.


pragmatism neuroscience law oliver wendell holmes jr. medical ethics John Dewey

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

About the authors

Dr Jay Schulkin is a Research Professor in the Department of Neuroscience as well as a member at the Center for the Brain Basis of Cognition, both at Georgetown University, USA. He is the author of a number of books, including Roots of Social Sensibility and Neural Function (2000), Naturalism and Pragmatism (2012), and Reflections on the Musical Mind (2013)He received his PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. 

Bibliographic information