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Edinburgh Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series - September 2020

Wed 9 September 2020

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The latest in the Legal Studies Research Paper Series (Vol. 8, No. 4: Sep 8, 2020) from Edinburgh Law School is now available.

View the full Edinburgh Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series on SSRN

Papers include: 

Narrative Devices: Neurotechnologies, Information, and Self-constitution 

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/11

Emily Postan, Edinburgh Law School

Abstract: This article provides a conceptual and normative framework through which we may understand the potentially ethically significant roles that information generated by neurotechnologies about our brains and minds may play in our construction of our identities. Neuroethics debates currently focus disproportionately on the ways that third parties may (ab)use these kinds of information and, in particular, putative threats to ‘neuro-privacy’. These debates occlude interests we may have in whether and how we ourselves encounter information about our own brains and minds. This gap is not yet adequately addressed by most allusions in the literature to potential identity impacts. These lack the requisite conceptual or normative foundations to explain why we should be concerned about such effects or how they might be addressed. This article addresses this gap by presenting a normative account of identity as constituted by embodied self-narratives. It proposes that information generated by neurotechnologies can play significant content-supplying and interpretive roles in our construction of our self-narratives. It argues, to the extent that these roles support and detract from the coherence and inhabitability of our self-narratives, access to information about our brains and minds engages non-trivial identity-related interests. These claims are illustrated using examples drawn from empirical literature reporting reactions to information generated by implantable predictive BCIs and psychiatric neuroimaging. The article concludes by highlighting ways in which information generated by neurotechnologies should be governed so as to protect information subjects’ interests in developing and inhabiting their own identities.

Postal Delivery of Illegal Consignments into Scotland: Dataset Description

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/12

Ben Matthews, Edinburgh Law School; Susan McVie, Edinburgh Law School; Chris Dibben, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh; Ben Collier, University of Cambridge

Abstract: This report describes a novel dataset of illegal consignments from overseas identified in postal processing centres between April 2011 and January 2016 and intended for delivery to Scotland. The data were provided to researchers at the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research by the National Crime Agency. This dataset provides valuable information on drugs entering Scotland via international postal services, a popular delivery method for drugs purchased in online cryptomarkets. The report provides an overview of how the dataset was constructed, its contents, and the technical and governance arrangements involved in accessing this dataset. It also provides descriptive statistics for the variables included in the dataset, comparing this data source with other data on patterns of cryptomarket usage and focusing particularly on the type, size and distribution of different commodities. From this comparison we conclude that the Illegal Consignment dataset has similar characteristics to other datasets on cryptomarket use over the same time span.

Resetting or Reversion in the New Climate Normal

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/13

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, Edinburgh Law School; Louise Burrows, E3G


This chapter makes the case that ambitious climate action should central to the “new normal” in Asia, and that law has an important role in delivering it. From the perspective of climate change policy and law, the Covid-19 catastrophe offers the slim possibility that we will “build back better,” restoring our societies and economies along climate-friendly lines. This approach – resetting – envisages national stimulus packages and allied actions of central banks and financial regulators which are oriented towards economic growth and net-zero emission pathways in the months and years following Covid-19. Such policy approaches would include monetary financing, asset purchase programs, SME support, and bailouts. Being “Paris-aligned” (aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement), these initiatives would be heavily weighted towards net-zero buildings, energy storage, climate-friendly materials, clean industry and land-use, transport and greenhouse gas (GHG) removal. The alternative narrative – reversion – identifies a recovery trajectory in which policies that are supportive of carbon-intensive pathways push the Paris Agreement targets further out of reach. Components of such recovery packages include unconditional bailouts for the fossil fuel sector, conventional mobility (i.e. aviation, combustion engine-powered vehicles), and so on. Reversion may appear akin to the status quo, but resetting is far from a marginal preoccupation of the environmental movement. Advocates include international organizations, leading central bankers, major corporations, and governments, although the signals can be scrambled.

We explore the tension between these two approaches in the immediate response to Covid-19, focusing on the coal sector as an emblematic variable in climate change debates. Coal is particularly significant in terms of its environmental impact, its predominance in Asia, and its unstable economics. These aspects each have relevance to policy responses to climate change, in particular the means by which coal is financed by states through export credit agencies (ECAs), which may be susceptible to legal challenge. Our discussion is limited to a selection of Asian jurisdictions that are representative of the major trends and processes.