Watch 2011 symposium videos


For several decades now, neuroscientists have used technology to produce images of the brain in action.  But what do such pictures tell us?  Should they change the way we think about personal identity and free will?  Can they reveal whether a person is capable of making moral decisions, or whether a person is telling the truth?  If so, brain imaging technology seems to hold great promise for the criminal justice system.  However, allowing brain scans to be used as evidence in trials for conviction or sentencing raises many questions about the nature of responsibility, the nature of fairness, and the public perception of science and technology.

The 2011 LSSP symposium, Ethics & the Brain, will bring to campus seven leading researchers from the fields of neuroscience, law, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and theology to discuss these issues. 

The symposium will take place on the flagship campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.  It is free and open to the university community and the public and is designed to encourage dialogue across methodologies and backgrounds.


Symposium Information


Affiliated Events

1050H Honors seminar: Ethics and the Brain
University of Missouri

Film Series
MU Museum of Art & Archaeology

  • A Clockwork Orange, February 17

Trolley problem reenactment
University of Missouri

Film series with discussion
Ragtag Cinema

  • Cold Souls, March 9
  • In Search of Memory, March 16

“Controlling Heredity: The American Eugenics Crusade 1870-1940”: University of Missouri Libraries Exhibit
Ellis Library, University of Missouri

“Visions of Transparency: The Human Body and Social Order,"Ellis Library, University of Missouri

  • by Stefani Engelstein
  • opening lecture for Eugenics exhibit

Brain-research poster session
Life Sciences Center
More on poster submission...

American Society for Neurochemistry
42nd Annual Meeting

St. Louis, MO

Journalism ethics mini-conference
School of Journalism


For more information,
contact Stefani Engelstein at
or Karla Carter at

Symposium SpeakersMarch 18-20, 2011


Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology; Harvard University.
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who is world-renowned for his work examining language and mind, and social and moral decision-making, from an evolutionary perspective.  His best-selling books include How the Mind Works (1997) and The Blank Slate (2002), and he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  Time Magazine named Pinker one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004.  The title of his talk is "A History of Violence."

Patricia Churchland, Professor of Philosophy; University of California, San Diego; Adjunct Professor, Salk Institute.
Patricia Churchland is a pioneer in the field of neurophilosophy. Her recent work focuses on the implications of neuroscience for our understanding of rationality, morality, and the self.

Joseph Dumit, Director of Science and Technology Studies; Professor of Anthropology; University of California, Davis.
Joseph Dumit is a biomedical anthropologist who studies the complex entanglements of medicine and society, with a particular focus on brain imaging.

Adam Kolber, Professor of Law; Brooklyn Law School.
Adam Kolber, founder of the Neuroethics & Law Blog, is a leading scholar of the possible implications of neuroscience for the legal system.  He writes at the intersection of criminal law, health law, and neuroethics.

Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy; Fuller Theological Seminary.
Nancey Murphy is a philosopher and theologian who has written about the implications of neuroscience for thinking about moral responsibility, moral personhood, and free will in relation to biological processes. She is co-author, with Warren Brown, of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will.

Jesse Prinz, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy; City University of New York, Graduate Center.
Jesse Prinz studies the cognitive and neurological foundations of the mind, focusing particularly on emotional, experiential, and cultural contributions to thought and morality.

Adrian Raine, Richard Perry University Professor in the Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology; University of Pennsylvania.
Adrian Raine, an internationally renowned expert in the emerging field of neurocriminology,  integrates neuroscientific and social perspectives in the prediction and explanation of violent behavior, particularly in psychopaths.


Sponsors & Partners

Mizzou Advantage: Understanding and Managing Transformative and Disruptive Technologies MU Libraries
Mizzou Advantage: Media of the Future The Smith/Patterson Lecture Series, School of Journalism
Mizzou Advantage: One Health, One Medicine MU Center for Arts & Humanities
MU School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Group
MU School of Journalism Center for Health Ethics
MU College of Arts and Science MU Honors College
MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Ragtag Cinema
MU School of Law MU Libraries
Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Fund
Saturday Morning Science
Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence The Columbia Tribune
MU Office of Research MU Museum of Art & Archaeology
Bond Life Sciences Center MU Conference Office
MU Conference Office © 2010
The Sixth Annual Life Sciences & Society Symposia