depth of the assumption in law that brains cause minds can be seen in
the subtle way the court in Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312 (1993) decided
on the standard of proof that should be required in different mental
case involved the standard of proof in involuntary commitment proceedings.
The court had applied the clear and convincing standard (more stringent
than the preponderance standard, but less than beyond reasonable doubt)
to determine whether the person was mentally ill. The court held that
that was a mistake. Clear and convincing is proper, the court held,
in mental retardation cases, where the underlying biology is well known
and easier to prove, but in mental illness the brain/mind picture is
not nearly so clear, so it should be subject to the stricter standard.
Heller court's conclusion is based on a standard piece of legal epistemology:
The harder it is to understand something, the higher the standard of
proof required. The court reveals a clear sense of the brain/mind situation
and the epistemological uncertainty it presents.