Professor Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov

Professor in Neuroscience, Law and Legal Philosophy
+44 (0)1483 686198
38 AB 05
Diane Donnelly
01483 683149



Bebhinn joined the School of Law in September 2017. She moved from Swansea University, where she was a Professor in the College of Law and Criminology. Bebhinn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin (where she was an exhibitioner), The Inns of Court School of Law, and Birmingham University. She is a member of Middle Temple and the Bar of Northern Ireland. Her research has straddled a number of substantive fields including criminal law, international law, and environmental law but the focus is always a philosophical one, where the aim is to elucidate law's underlying concepts and normative rationales. Her approach to teaching also embeds this conceptual ambition.

Research interests

Bebhinn's enduring research interests are in jurisprudence and criminal law theory. Her book on criminal attempts, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015, is structured around an Anscombian account of intentional action. Recent and ongoing work explores our understanding of the mind and considers its implications for criminal responsibility, mens rea, omissions, and for defences. Bebhinn has begun to write a book on law, knowledge and consciousness.


Criminal Law


Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy


Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov (2021)Neuroscience and the Moral Enhancement of Offenders: The Exceptionally ‘Good’ Brain as a Thought Experiment, In: Neurolawpp. 229-250 Springer International Publishing

Rather than ask a common question—how brain ‘abnormalities’ affect moral assessments of the wrongdoer—this paper considers how our response to the good person might change on learning that their unusual brain enhances their goodness. Is the person with an extremely ‘good’ brain morally better, or worse indeed, than the rest of us? What, if anything, might it mean for us to be enhanced relative to the good person or for the ‘good’ person to be enhanced relative to us? What follows ethically for neuroenhancement and our approach to criminal offending? An insight, given added prominence by the change in focus, is that interventions have the potential not just to change the person, but to change what it is to be persons.

Additional publications