Dr. Nita Farahany – Law, Behavioral Genetics & Neuroscience

Nita Farahany focuses on the legal, philosophical and social issues arising from developments in the biosciences, particularly related to behavioral genetics and neuroscience. As a leading expert in law and the biosciences, her published work has appeared in legal, philosophical and scientific publications as well as the mainstream media. She is the editor of The Impact of Behavioral Sciences on Criminal Law (Oxford University Press), which includes essays from experts on the use of behavioral genetics and neuroscience in the criminal justice system. She is currently examining how these emerging scientific developments inform agency and responsibility theory, and challenge existing doctrines in constitutional law. Professor Farahany presents her work widely and to varied audiences, including past presentations to the Second Circuit Judicial Conference, the National Judicial College, the Stanford Center for the Integration of Research on Genetics and Ethics, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. In 2010, Professor Farahany was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Before joining Vanderbilt, Professor Farahany clerked for the Honorable Judith W. Rogers on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in genetics and cellular biology, and from Harvard University with a master’s degree in biology, where her thesis, Prescribing Culpability, critiqued the use of scientific criteria to define normative legal concepts. She earned her J.D., M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy of biology and jurisprudence at Duke University, where her doctoral dissertation, Rediscovering Criminal Responsibility through Behavioral Genetics, established the scientific and philosophical limitations to informing individual responsibility with behavioral genetics.

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