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This is a Berkman Klein alum page. The information below may be out of date.

Oliver R. Goodenough is currently a Faculty Associate at The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Universoty, a Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School and an Adjuct Professor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.  He has also held appointments as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Neurology at Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a Research Fellow of the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research, and heads its Planning and Programming Committee.

Professor Goodenough has done extensive work in the combination of biology, evolutionary theory and law, focusing on three main topics: (i) the neurological basis of law and the sense of justice, (ii) evolutionary theory, particularly as applied to cultural evolution, and (iii) the application of game theory, cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary thought to problems of law, business and economics. In addition to his own work, Professor Goodenough has been an organizer of more than 25 academic conferences, in cooperation with institutions including the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Business School, the University of Cambridge, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the London School of Economics, and Dartmouth College.

On neuroscience and law, Professor Goodenough was co-editor of Law and the Brain, a dedicated issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, (Nov. 2004), which included his papers Law and the brain: Introduction (with S. Zeki, Vol. 359, P. 1661-1665), A neuroscientific approach to normative judgment in law and justice (with K. Prehn, Vol. 359 P. 1709-1726), and Responsibility and punishment: whose mind? A response (Vol. 349, P. 1805-1809). A reprinting of this volume by Oxford University Press was published in 2006.

His essay Mapping Cortical Areas Associated with Legal Reasoning and Moral Intuition, 41 Jurimetrics J. Vol. 41, P. 429–442 (2001), was awarded the Lee Loevinger Jurimetrics Research Award, in April, 2000, and was among the first publications linking law and neuroscience. More recently, his chapter Can Cognitive Neuroscience Make Psychology a Foundational Discipline for the Study of Law? appeared in Michael Freeman, ed., Law and Psychology, Current Legal Issues Vol. 9 (Oxford, Oxford University Press. 2006).

Goodenough has also been involved in brain research projects. A pilot fMRI study was conducted at the University of London, with the collaboration of Professors Chris Frith and Richard Frackowiak. Its preliminary results were reported at Schultz, J., Goodenough, O.R., Frackowiak, R. & Frith, C.D., Cortical regions associated with the sense of justice and with legal rules, NeuroImage, Vol. 13, P. S 473 (2001). He has also participated in research on the neurology of law and moral judgment at the Department of Neurology at Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin.

His publications on cultural evolution include The 'St Jude' mind virus, with Richard Dawkins, Nature, Vol. 371, No. 6492, P. 23, (September 1, 1994), Mind Viruses: Culture, Evolution and the Puzzle of Altruism, Social Science Information, Vol. 34, No. 2, P. 287 (1995), Information Replication in Culture: Three Modes for the Transmission of Culture Elements through Observed Action, in Imitation in Animals and Artifacts (MIT Press, 2002) and Cultural Replication Theory and Law: Proximate Mechanisms Make a Difference, 30 Vermont L. Rev. 989-1005, 2006.

Professor Goodenough has given presentations on business, economics and biology to the American Law and Economics Association, the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law, and the International Society for the New Institutional Economics. His work on mechanisms stabilizing cooperative behavior in business is developed in his chapter Law and the Biology of Commitment, in Randolph Nesse, ed., Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment (Russel Sage, 2002). This work on the structures and psychology of economic cooperation was carried forward in a program of the Gruter Institute entitled Free Enterprise: Values in Action, with the support of the John Templeton Foundation, and has resulted in Values, Mechanism Design, and Fairness (Publication anticipated in Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy, Paul J. Zak, ed., Princeton University Press, forthcoming, 2007, also available at

In his other fields of concentration, entertainment law, intellectual property, corporate law and international business and trade, his writings include This Business of Television (3nd ed. Billboard, 2006), and Privacy and Publicity: Society, Doctrine and the Development of Law (Intellectual Property Institute, 1996). His chapter Why Do Good People Steal Intellectual Property?, with Gregory Decker is available in working paper form at Publication is anticipated in Law, Mind and Brain, Michael Freeman and Oliver R. Goodenough, eds.

Professor Goodenough is a regular contributor of opinion and commentary pieces to the Rutland Herald, Vermont’s most respected newspaper, and his pieces have also appeared in other newspapers around the country.

In addition to writing, Professor Goodenough has been extremely active as an organizer and presenter for academic conferences. In the 16 years since he became an academic, he has been a principal organizer of more than 40 workshops, seminars, colloquia and other conferences, working with such partners and hosts as Harvard University, University of Cambridge, University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, Georgetown University, University College London, Dartmouth College, Humboldt University, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the American Anthropological Association. He has made formal presentations at over 100 academic and professional conferences, including venues in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Britain, and the Czech Republic.

As a teacher, Professor Goodenough’s offerings at Vermont Law School have included Business Planning, Corporations and Other Business Structures, Entertainment Law, Human Nature and the Law, Property, Corporations for Environmental Practitioners, International Business Transactions, International Trade Law, Lawyering, and Securities Regulation. At Dartmouth’s Thayer School, he teaches Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship: Intellectual Property, Transactions, and Finance.

Professor Goodenough has been in legal practice for over 25 years, first as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City then, from 1981-2003, with the New York firm of Kay & Boose, L.L.P. and its predecessors Kay Collyer & Boose and Fulop & Hardee, first as an associate, then as a partner, and, after turning to academia full time, as counsel. Most recently he has acted as a consultant to law firms and legal departments in Britain and the United States.

Projects & Tools


Cloud Computing

Led by Executive Director and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice, Urs Gasser, the Berkman Center's cloud computing initiative seeks to identify and evaluate the challenges…


Input to ICANN Accountability and Transparency Review Process

The Berkman Center conducted an independent, exploratory study analyzing ICANN’s decision-making processes and communications with stakeholders.


Law Lab

The Law Lab is a multidisciplinary research initiative and collaborative network of University, nonprofit and industry partners. Its mission is to investigate and harness the…


Dec 17, 2010

The Law Lab launches a prototype of their Digital Law Library wiki

This effort is focused on cataloging and analyzing Senegalese and other West African law and putting it online in a searchable and easily accessible format.

Jul 29, 2010

Radio Berkman 160: Business, Meet Web

This week on Radio Berkman: Berkman fellow and Law Lab co-director Oliver Goodenough speaks with Zeba Kahn about Vermont's virtual business laws...


Jul 9, 2013 @ 12:30 PM

Creating a Law School e-Curriculum

Legal technology is reshaping practice. It needs to reshape law schools as well. In the current crisis in law, teaching legal technology must be part of curriculum reform.

Oct 6, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Cloud Law, Finance 3.0, and Digital Institutions: A Report from the Berkman Center's Law Lab

John Clippinger, Urs Gasser, and Oliver Goodenough

The Berkman Center Law Lab is a project devoted to investigating and harness the varied forces — evolutionary, social, psychological, neurological and economic — that shape the…

Apr 7, 2008 @ 7:30 PM

Should Criminal Law Be Reconsidered in Light of Advances in Neuroscience?

Berkman fellow Oliver Goodenough moderated a panel debate discussing: "Should Criminal Law Be Reconsidered in Light of Advances in Neuroscience?"

Oct 16, 2007 @ 12:30 PM

Modeling Cooperation for First and Second Lives: Suggesting a General Case

Oliver Goodenough, Berkman Fellow

Berkman Fellow and Professor at Vermont Law School, Oliver Goodenough presented research on understanding cooperative structures through a combination of game theory and…