Robert Scherrer's "Descartes's Stepchildren" (novelette): What if some people are biologically incapable of conscientious behavior?
Story summary.A neurologist has discovered experimentally that neurons in a specific region of the human brain are active whenever person's own identity is involved in a thought (e.g., when you're looking at a mirror). Then he discovers that there are some people, about 20% of population, for which it doesn't happen.
And then there is a drug that can make the region not light up even in people in which it normally lights up. And when the region doesn't light up, the same person has a very different personality - cold, calculating, unconscientious.
So he generalizes that some people are conscientious, while others lack the biological infrastructure to be conscientious. And a simple test can be devised that can be administered by any trained doctor to determine if an individual has this facility.
Story explores the social implications of this knowledge.
- Ted Kosmatka's "Divining Light": Physical universe distinguishes between animals with consciousness(?) (something - I don't remember) or not, & a physical test can be devised to determine if a certain animal is has this attribute, or exactly when a developing human fetus gets this attribute.
Fact sheet.First published: Analog, January/February 2013.