Carlton Patrick is an interdisciplinary legal scholar who studies the cognitive and evolutionary foundations of law. His research attempts to draw a through-line from the natural sciences to the behavioral sciences, and from the behavioral sciences to the social sciences, by first asking empirical questions about why humans behave in the way they do, and then asking normative questions about what these explanations mean for the law. In the past, this work has meant investigating issues such as: Why do certain behaviors disgust us, and what role should this disgust play in identifying behaviors the law should prohibit? How do we decide how much something should be punished, and why do we see such stark agreement among legal systems—in both the actions we choose to punish and how severely we punish them—across cultures and over historical time? What does it mean to act in the “heat of passion” and are the assumptions the law makes about anger actually accurate?

He is the coauthor of the book Objection: Disgust, Morality and the Law (Oxford University Press) and his articles have been published across a broad range of academic outlets including the Arizona State, San Diego, and Nevada Law Journals, as well as scientific outlets such as Nature Human Behaviour, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, and Evolution and Human Behavior.

Dr. Patrick teaches courses in Law and Emotions, Law and Human Behavior, Legal Scholarship, and Legal Writing and has been the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the CCIE College Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the UCF Department of Legal Studies Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Rod Gillis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Prior to joining the faculty at UCF, he received a B.A. from Florida State University, a J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Miami. He was also a visiting scholar with the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania and practiced law with Holland & Knight LLP.

Selected Publications

Carlton Patrick, Evolution is the Source, and the Undoing, of Natural Law, Evolution and Human Behavior (forthcoming 2023).

Carlton Patrick, The Origins of Property Law, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (forthcoming 2023) (commentary on Pascal Boyer’s Ownership psychology as a cognitive adaptation).

Daniel Sznycer & Carlton Patrick, The Origins of Criminal Law, 4 Nature Human Behaviour 506 (2020).

Debra Lieberman & Carlton Patrick, Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law (OUP 2018).

Carlton Patrick, The Long-Term Promise of Evolutionary Psychology for the Law, 48 Ariz. St. L.J. 995 (2016).

More Publications by Carlton Patrick


  • Law and Human Behavior
  • Law and Emotions
  • Legal Scholarship
  • Legal Writing
  • Law, Film, and Popular Culture