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Neuroethics

Edited by L. Syd M Johnson (Michigan Technological University)
About this topic
Summary Neuroethics is a nascent subdiscipline that has emerged out of bioethics and neuroscience to consider the ethical issued raised by developments in neuroscience, particularly recent developments in neuroetechnologies. The scope of neuroethics is broad and heterogeneous. In her seminal 2002 paper, philosopher and neuroscientist Adina Roskies bisected the field of neuroethics into two broad sectors: the ethics of neuroscience, and the neuroscience of ethics. The ethics of neuroscience overlaps significantly with traditional issues in biomedical ethics, including the ethics of neuroscientific research, and the ethical, legal, and social implications of new developments and discoveries in neuroscience. The “neuroscience of ethics”  engages with traditional ethical questions, and (controversially) overlaps with neurophilosophical, metaphysical inquiries concerning free will and personal identity as they inform and interact with important ethical and social issues. Specific areas of neuroethical interest include: cognitive enhancement, disorders of consciousness and neurological impairment, psychiatric disorders, brain imaging, free will/moral responsibility, and addiction, and the neuroscientific study of morality and decision-making.
Key works The broad scope of neuroethics defies a concise bibliography. Moreover, while there is overlap in some foci of neuroethics, there are also regions that stand apart. This article reflects neuroethics' origins as a subdiscipline of bioethics by examining ethical issues in clinical neuroscience (Glannon 2011). The moral significance of consciousness (Kahane & Savulescu 2009), and the role of neuroscience in illuminating the "problem of other minds" with respect to brain damage, and nonhuman animals (Farah 2008) is a subject with an extensive literature. Works on issues related to control, responsibility, freedom, and addiction include Hall 2003 and Glannon 2013Persson & Savulescu 2008 proposes both cognitive and moral enhancement. The neuroscience of ethics overlaps considerably with the work of experimental philosophers, e.g. Knobe 2003Greene unknown, and Appiah 2008.
Introductions For a general introductions to neuroethics, see Illes & Sahakian 2011 and Levy 2009 and Roskies 2002.
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Ethics of Brain Imaging
  1. Sergio Bagnato, Cristina Boccagni, Antonino Sant'Angelo, Alexander A. Fingelkurts, Andrew A. Fingelkurts & Giuseppe Galardi (2013). Emerging From an Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome: Brain Plasticity has to Cross a Threshold Level. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 37 (10):2721-2736.
    Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS, previously known as vegetative state) occurs after patients survive a severe brain injury. Patients suffering from UWS have lost awareness of themselves and of the external environment and do not retain any trace of their subjective experience. Current data demonstrate that neuronal functions subtending consciousness are not completely reset in UWS; however, they are reduced below the threshold required to experience consciousness. The critical factor that determines whether patients will recover consciousness is the distance of their (...)
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  2. D. A. Baker, N. J. Schweitzer & Evan F. Risko (2014). Perceived Access to Self-Relevant Information Mediates Judgments of Privacy Violations in Neuromonitoring and Other Monitoring Technologies. Neuroethics 7 (1):43-50.
    Advances in technology are bringing greater insight into the mind, raising a host of privacy concerns. However, the basic psychological mechanisms underlying the perception of privacy violations are poorly understood. Here, we explore the relation between the perception of privacy violations and access to information related to one’s “self.” In two studies using demographically diverse samples, we find that privacy violations resulting from various monitoring technologies are mediated by the extent to which the monitoring is thought to provide access to (...)
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  3. Robyn Bluhm (2013). New Research, Old Problems: Methodological and Ethical Issues in fMRI Research Examining Sex/Gender Differences in Emotion Processing. Neuroethics 6 (2):319-330.
    Neuroscience research examining sex/gender differences aims to explain behavioral differences between men and women in terms of differences in their brains. Historically, this research has used ad hoc methods and has been conducted explicitly in order to show that prevailing gender roles were dictated by biology. I examine contemporary fMRI research on sex/gender differences in emotion processing and argue that it, too, both uses problematic methods and, in doing so, reinforces gender stereotypes.
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  4. Alison C. Boyce (2009). Neuroimaging in Psychiatry: Evaluating the Ethical Consequences for Patient Care. Bioethics 23 (6):349-359.
    According to many researchers, it is inevitable and obvious that psychiatric illnesses are biological in nature, and that this is the rationale behind the numerous neuroimaging studies of individuals diagnosed with mental disorders. Scholars looking at the history of psychiatry have pointed out that in the past, the origins and motivations behind the search for biological causes, correlates, and cures for mental disorders are thoroughly social and historically rooted, particularly when the diagnostic category in question is the subject of controversy (...)
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  5. Vanessa Carbonell (2013). Interactive Capacity, Decisional Capacity, and a Dilemma for Surrogates. AJOB Neuroscience 4 (4):36-37.
  6. Richard Dean (2010). Does Neuroscience Undermine Deontological Theory? Neuroethics 3 (1):43-60.
    Joshua Greene has argued that several lines of empirical research, including his own fMRI studies of brain activity during moral decision-making, comprise strong evidence against the legitimacy of deontology as a moral theory. This is because, Greene maintains, the empirical studies establish that “characteristically deontological” moral thinking is driven by prepotent emotional reactions which are not a sound basis for morality in the contemporary world, while “characteristically consequentialist” thinking is a more reliable moral guide because it is characterized by greater (...)
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  7. A. Demertzi, E. Racine, M.-A. Bruno, D. Ledoux, O. Gosseries, A. Vanhaudenhuyse, M. Thonnard, A. Soddu, G. Moonen & S. Laureys (2013). Pain Perception in Disorders of Consciousness: Neuroscience, Clinical Care, and Ethics in Dialogue. [REVIEW] Neuroethics 6 (1):37-50.
    Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...)
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  8. Athina Demertzi, Eric Racine, Marie-Aurélie Bruno, Didier Ledoux, Olivia Gosseries, Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse, Marie Thonnard, Andrea Soddu, Gustave Moonen & Steven Laureys (forthcoming). Pain Perception in Disorders of Consciousness: Neuroscience, Clinical Care, and Ethics in Dialogue. Neuroethics.
  9. Peggy DesAutels (2010). Sex Differences and Neuroethics. Philosophical Psychology 23 (1):95-111.
    Discussions in neuroethics to date have ignored an ever-increasing neuroscientific lilterature on sex differences in brains. If, indeed, there are significant differences in the brains of men versus women and in the brains of boys versus girls, the ethical and social implications loom very large. I argue that recent neuroscientific findings on sex-based brain differences have significant implications for theories of morality and for our understandings of the neuroscience of moral cognition and behavior.
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  10. Jon B. Eisenberg (2008). Schiavo on the Cutting Edge: Functional Brain Imaging and its Impact on Surrogate End-of-Life Decision-Making. Neuroethics 1 (2):75-83.
    The article addresses the potential impact of functional brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron-emission tomography) on surrogate end-of-life decision-making in light of varying state-law definitions of consciousness, some of which define awareness behaviorally and others functionally. The article concludes that, in light of admonitions by neuroscientists that functional brain imaging cannot yet replace behavioral evaluation to determine the existence of consciousness, state legislatures, courts and drafters of written advance healthcare directives should consider treating behavior, not function, as the (...)
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  11. Cordelia Fine (2013). Is There Neurosexism in Functional Neuroimaging Investigations of Sex Differences? Neuroethics 6 (2):369-409.
    The neuroscientific investigation of sex differences has an unsavoury past, in which scientific claims reinforced and legitimated gender roles in ways that were not scientifically justified. Feminist critics have recently argued that the current use of functional neuroimaging technology in sex differences research largely follows that tradition. These charges of ‘neurosexism’ have been countered with arguments that the research being done is informative and valuable and that an over-emphasis on the perils, rather than the promise, of such research threatens to (...)
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  12. Andrew A. Fingelkurts, Alexander A. Fingelkurts, Sergio Bagnato, Cristina Boccagni & Giuseppe Galardi (2012). DMN Operational Synchrony Relates to Self-Consciousness: Evidence From Patients in Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States. Open Neuroimaging Journal 6:55-68.
    The default mode network (DMN) has been consistently activated across a wide variety of self-related tasks, leading to a proposal of the DMN’s role in self-related processing. Indeed, there is limited fMRI evidence that the functional connectivity within the DMN may underlie a phenomenon referred to as self-awareness. At the same time, none of the known studies have explicitly investigated neuronal functional interactions among brain areas that comprise the DMN as a function of self-consciousness loss. To fill this gap, EEG (...)
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  13. Joseph J. Fins (2008). Neuroethics and Neuroimaging: Moving Toward Transparency. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (9):46 – 52.
    Without exaggeration, it could be said that we are entering a golden age of neuroscience. Informed by recent developments in neuroimaging that allow us to peer into the working brain at both a structural and functional level, neuroscientists are beginning to untangle mechanisms of recovery after brain injury and grapple with age-old questions about brain and mind and their correlates neural mechanisms and consciousness. Neuroimaging, coupled with new diagnostic categories and assessment scales are helping us develop a new diagnostic nosology (...)
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  14. Joseph J. Fins (2006). Clinical Pragmatism and the Care of Brain Damaged Patients: Towards a Palliative Neuroethics for Disorders of Consciousness. In Steven Laureys (ed.), Boundaries of Consciousness. Elsevier.
  15. Joseph J. Fins, Judy Illes, James L. Bernat, Joy Hirsch, Steven Laureys & Emily Murphy (2008). Neuroimaging and Disorders of Consciousness: Envisioning an Ethical Research Agenda. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (9):3 – 12.
    The application of neuroimaging technology to the study of the injured brain has transformed how neuroscientists understand disorders of consciousness, such as the vegetative and minimally conscious states, and deepened our understanding of mechanisms of recovery. This scientific progress, and its potential clinical translation, provides an opportunity for ethical reflection. It was against this scientific backdrop that we convened a conference of leading investigators in neuroimaging, disorders of consciousness and neuroethics. Our goal was to develop an ethical frame to move (...)
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  16. Joseph J. Fins, Nicholas D. Schiff & Kathleen M. Foley (2007). Late Recovery From the Minimally Conscious State: Ethical and Policy Implications. Neurology 68 (4):304-307.
  17. Ruth L. Fischbach & Gerald D. Fischbach (2008). Neuroethicists Needed Now More Than Ever. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (1):47 – 48.
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  18. Hannah Fitsch (2012). (A)E(s)Th(Et)Ics of Brain Imaging. Visibilities and Sayabilities in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Neuroethics 5 (3):275-283.
    Producing and interpreting functional brain data is part of the negotiation we imagine our brain. To take a closer look at the idea of brain imaging as a form of visual knowledge, it is necessary to put the research of today into a historical context. In my article I will point to a specific approach of functional imaging which depends on historical shifts entangled with the visual aspect of producing pictures of the brain. I will bring out the interaction of (...)
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  19. Frederic Gilbert & L. Syd M. Johnson (2011). The Impact of American Tackle Football-Related Concussion in Youth Athletes. AJOB Neuroscience 2 (4):48-59.
    Postmortem research on the brains of American tackle football players has revealed the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma. Repeated concussion is a risk factor for CTE, raising ethical concerns about the long-term effects of concussion on athletes at risk for football-related concussion. Of equal concern is that youth athletes are at increased risk for lasting neurocognitive and developmental deficits that can result in behavioral disturbances and diminished academic performance. In this (...)
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  20. Frederic Gilbert & Bradley J. Partridge (2012). The Need to Tackle Concussion in Australian Football Codes. Medical Journal of Australia 196 (9):561-563.
    Postmortem evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of American National Football League players who suffered concussions while playing have intensified concerns about the risks of concussion in sport.1 Concussions are frequently sustained by amateur and professional players of Australia’s three most popular football codes (Australian football, rugby league, and rugby union) and, to a lesser extent, other contact sports such as soccer. This raises major concerns about possible long-term neurological damage, cognitive impairment and mental health problems in (...)
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  21. Frederic Gilbert, Andrej Vranic & Samia Hurst (2013). Involuntary & Voluntary Invasive Brain Surgery: Ethical Issues Related to Acquired Aggressiveness. [REVIEW] Neuroethics 6 (1):115-128.
    Clinical cases of frontal lobe lesions have been significantly associated with acquired aggressive behaviour. Restoring neuronal and cognitive faculties of aggressive individuals through invasive brain intervention raises ethical questions in general. However, more questions have to be addressed in cases where individuals refuse surgical treatment. The ethical desirability and permissibility of using intrusive surgical brain interventions for involuntary or voluntary treatment of acquired aggressiveness is highly questionable. This article engages with the description of acquired aggressiveness in general, and presents a (...)
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  22. Walter Glannon (2006). Neuroethics. Bioethics 20 (1):37–52.
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  23. Bert Heinrichs (2011). A New Challenge for Research Ethics: Incidental Findings in Neuroimaging. [REVIEW] Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 8 (1):59-65.
    It has become evident that neuroimaging raises new normative questions that cannot be addressed adequately within the (in this regard unspecific) frameworks of existing research ethics. Questions that are especially troubling are, among others, provoked by incidental findings. Two questions are particularly intricate in view of incidental findings: (1) How can the research subject’s right not to know be guaranteed? And (2) should a diagnostic check of scans by a neuroradiologist become an obligatory part of neuroscientific research protocols? The present (...)
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  24. Jan-Hendrik Heinrichs (2012). The Sensitivity of Neuroimaging Data. Neuroethics 5 (2):185-195.
    Abstract When new methods of generating information about individuals leave the confined space of research application the possibility of morally dubious application arises. The current propagation of neuroscientific diagnostics leads to new possibilities of misuse and accordingly new needs for the protection of individual privacy emerge. While most current privacy discussion focuses on sensationalist applications which aim/claim to gather information about psychological traits or even the content of thoughts, the more sober but much more realistic endeavour to gather health data (...)
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  25. Stuart Henry & Dena Plemmons (2012). Neuroscience, Neuropolitics and Neuroethics: The Complex Case of Crime, Deception and fMRI. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (3):573-591.
    Scientific developments take place in a socio-political context but scientists often ignore the ways their innovations will be both interpreted by the media and used by policy makers. In the rush to neuroscientific discovery important questions are overlooked, such as the ways: (1) the brain, environment and behavior are related; (2) biological changes are mediated by social organization; (3) institutional bias in the application of technical procedures ignores race, class and gender dimensions of society; (4) knowledge is used to the (...)
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  26. Christian G. Huber & Johannes Huber (2009). Epistemological Considerations on Neuroimaging – a Crucial Prerequisite for Neuroethics. Bioethics 23 (6):340-348.
    Purpose: Whereas ethical considerations on imaging techniques and interpretations of neuroimaging results flourish, there is not much work on their preconditions. In this paper, therefore, we discuss epistemological considerations on neuroimaging and their implications for neuroethics. Results: Neuroimaging uses indirect methods to generate data about surrogate parameters for mental processes, and there are many determinants influencing the results, including current hypotheses and the state of knowledge. This leads to an interdependence between hypotheses and data. Additionally, different levels of description are (...)
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  27. Judy Illes & Eric Racine (2005). Imaging or Imagining? A Neuroethics Challenge Informed by Genetics. American Journal of Bioethics 5 (2):5 – 18.
    From a twenty-first century partnership between bioethics and neuroscience, the modern field of neuroethics is emerging, and technologies enabling functional neuroimaging with unprecedented sensitivity have brought new ethical, social and legal issues to the forefront. Some issues, akin to those surrounding modern genetics, raise critical questions regarding prediction of disease, privacy and identity. However, with new and still-evolving insights into our neurobiology and previously unquantifiable features of profoundly personal behaviors such as social attitude, value and moral agency, the difficulty of (...)
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  28. L. Syd M. Johnson (2013). Can They Suffer? The Ethical Priority of Quality of Life Research in Disorders of Consciousness. Bioethica Forum 6 (4):129-136.
    There is ongoing ethical and legal debate about withdrawing life sup- port for patients with disorders of consciousness (DOCs). Frequently fu- eling the debate are implicit assumptions about the value of life in a state of impaired consciousness, and persistent uncertainty about the quality of life (QoL) of these persons. Yet there are no validated methods for assessing QoL in this population, and a significant obstacle to doing so is their inability to communicate. Recent neuroscientific discoveries might circumvent that problem (...)
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  29. L. Syd M. Johnson (2013). Stable Value Sets, Psychological Well-Being, and the Disability Paradox: Ramifications for Assessing Decision Making Capacity. AJOB Neuroscience 4 (4):24-25.
    The phenomenon whereby severely disabled persons self-report a higher than expected level of subjective well-being is called the “disability paradox.” One explanation for the paradox among brain injury survivors is “response shift,” an adjustment of one’s values, expectations, and perspective in the aftermath of a life-altering, disabling injury. The high level of subjective well-being appears paradoxical when viewed from the perspective of the non-disabled, who presume that those with severe disabilities experience a quality of life so poor that it might (...)
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  30. L. Syd M. Johnson (2010). Implications of Recent Neuroscientific Findings in Patients with Disorders of Consciousness. Neuroethics 3 (2):185-196.
    A pressing issue in neuroscience is the high rate of misdiagnosis of disorders of consciousness. As new research on patients with disorders of consciousness has revealed surprising and previously unknown cognitive capacities, the need to develop better and more reliable methods of diagnosing these disorders becomes more urgent. So too the need to expand our ethical and social frameworks for thinking about these patients, to accommodate new concerns that will accompany new revelations. A recent study on trace conditioning and learning (...)
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  31. Ralf J. Jox & Katja Kuehlmeyer (2013). Introduction: Reconsidering Disorders of Consciousness in Light of Neuroscientific Evidence. Neuroethics 6 (1):1-3.
    Disorders of consciousness pose a substantial ethical challenge to clinical decision making, especially regarding the use of life-sustaining medical treatment. For these decisions it is paramount to know whether the patient is aware or not. Recent brain research has been striving to assess awareness by using mainly functional magnetic resonance imaging. We review the neuroscientific evidence and summarize the potential and problems of the different approaches to prove awareness. Finally, we formulate the crucial ethical questions and outline the different articles (...)
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  32. Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2009). Brain-Damaged Patients and the Moral Significance of Consciousness. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (1):6-26.
    Neuroimaging studies of brain-damaged patients diagnosed as in the vegetative state suggest that the patients might be conscious. This might seem to raise no new ethical questions given that in related disputes both sides agree that evidence for consciousness gives strong reason to preserve life. We question this assumption. We clarify the widely held but obscure principle that consciousness is morally significant. It is hard to apply this principle to difficult cases given that philosophers of mind distinguish between a range (...)
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  33. Chris Kaposy (2009). Will Neuroscientific Discoveries About Free Will and Selfhood Change Our Ethical Practices? Neuroethics 2 (1):51-59.
    Over the past few years, a number of authors in the new field of neuroethics have claimed that there is an ethical challenge presented by the likelihood that the findings of neuroscience will undermine many common assumptions about human agency and selfhood. These authors claim that neuroscience shows that human agents have no free will, and that our sense of being a “self” is an illusory construction of our brains. Furthermore, some commentators predict that our ethical practices of assigning moral (...)
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  34. Neil Levy (2008). Going Beyond the Evidence. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (9):19 – 21.
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  35. Paul McCullagh, Gaye Lightbody, Jaroslaw Zygierewicz & W. George Kernohan (2014). Ethical Challenges Associated with the Development and Deployment of Brain Computer Interface Technology. Neuroethics 7 (2):109-122.
    Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology offers potential for human augmentation in areas ranging from communication to home automation, leisure and gaming. This paper addresses ethical challenges associated with the wider scale deployment of BCI as an assistive technology by documenting issues associated with the development of non-invasive BCI technology. Laboratory testing is normally carried out with volunteers but further testing with subjects, who may be in vulnerable groups is often needed to improve system operation. BCI development is technically complex, sometimes (...)
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  36. Thomas Nadelhoffer (2011). Neural Lie Detection, Criterial Change, and OrdinaryLanguage. Neuroethics 4 (3):205-213.
    Michael Pardo and Dennis Patterson have recently put forward several provocative and stimulating criticisms that strike at the heart of much work that has been done at the crossroads of neuroscience and the law. My goal in this essay is to argue that their criticisms of the nascent but growing field of neurolaw are ultimately based on questionable assumptions concerning the nature of the ever evolving relationship between scientific discovery and ordinary language. For while the marriage between ordinary language and (...)
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  37. Thomas Nadelhoffer & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2012). Neurolaw and Neuroprediction: Potential Promises and Perils. Philosophy Compass 7 (9):631-642.
    Neuroscience has been proposed for use in the legal system for purposes of mind reading, assessment of responsibility, and prediction of misconduct. Each of these uses has both promises and perils, and each raises issues regarding the admissibility of neuroscientific evidence.
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  38. Juha Räikkä (2010). Brain Imaging and Privacy. Neuroethics 3 (1):5-12.
    I will argue that the fairly common assumption that brain imaging may compromise people’s privacy in an undesirable way only if moral crimes are committed is false. Sometimes persons’ privacy is compromised because of failures of privacy. A normal emotional reaction to failures of privacy is embarrassment and shame, not moral resentment like in the cases of violations of right to privacy. I will claim that if (1) neuroimaging will provide all kinds of information about persons’ inner life and not (...)
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  39. Adina L. Roskies (2008). Neuroimaging and Inferential Distance. Neuroethics 1 (1):19-30.
    Brain images are used both as scientific evidence and to illustrate the results of neuroimaging experiments. These images are apt to be viewed as photographs of brain activity, and in so viewing them people are prone to assume that they share the evidential characteristics of photographs. Photographs are epistemically compelling, and have a number of characteristics that underlie what I call their inferential proximity. Here I explore the aptness of the photography analogy, and argue that although neuroimaging does bear important (...)
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  40. Mark Sherer, Tessa Hart, John Whyte, Toad G. Nick & Stuart A. Yablon (2005). Neuroanatomic Basis of Impaired Self-Awareness After Traumatic Brain Injury: Findings From Early Computed Tomography. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Special Issue 20 (4):287-300.
  41. Vinay K. Shukla (2011). Magnetic Resonance Imaging. [REVIEW] Neuroethics 4 (3):271-271.
  42. Nicole A. Vincent, Pim Haselager & Gert-Jan Lokhorst (2011). “The Neuroscience of Responsibility”—Workshop Report. Neuroethics 4 (2):175-178.
    This is a report on the 3-day workshop “The Neuroscience of Responsibility” that was held in the Philosophy Department at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands during February 11th–13th, 2010. The workshop had 25 participants from The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, UK, USA, Canada and Australia, with expertise in philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry and law. Its aim was to identify current trends in neurolaw research related specifically to the topic of responsibility, and to foster international collaborative research on this topic. (...)
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Cognitive Enhancement
  1. J. M. Appel (2008). When the Boss Turns Pusher: A Proposal for Employee Protections in the Age of Cosmetic Neurology. Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (8):616-618.
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  2. Natalie Ball & Gregor Wolbring (forthcoming). Cognitive Enhancement: Perceptions Among Parents of Children with Disabilities. Neuroethics:1-20.
    Cognitive enhancement is an increasingly discussed topic and policy suggestions have been put forward. We present here empirical data of views of parents of children with and without cognitive disabilities. Analysis of the interviews revealed six primary overarching themes: meanings of health and treatment; the role of medicine; harm; the ‘good’ parent; normality and self-perception; and ability. Interestingly none of the parents used the term ethics and only one parent used the term moral twice.
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  3. John Basl (2010). State Neutrality and the Ethics of Human Enhancement Technologies. AJOB 1 (2):41-48.
    Robust technological enhancement of core cognitive capacities is now a realistic possibility. From the perspective of neutralism, the view that justifications for public policy should be neutral between reasonable conceptions of the good, only members of a subset of the ethical concerns serve as legitimate justifications for public policy regarding robust technological enhancement. This paper provides a framework for the legitimate use of ethical concerns in justifying public policy decisions regarding these enhancement technologies by evaluating the ethical concerns that arise (...)
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  4. Stephanie Bell, Brad Partridge, Jayne Lucke & Wayne Hall (2013). Australian University Students' Attitudes Towards the Acceptability and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals to Improve Academic Performance. Neuroethics 6 (1):197-205.
    There is currently little empirical information about attitudes towards cognitive enhancement - the use of pharmaceutical drugs to enhance normal brain functioning. It is claimed this behaviour most commonly occurs in students to aid studying. We undertook a qualitative assessment of attitudes towards cognitive enhancement by conducting 19 semi-structured interviews with Australian university students. Most students considered cognitive enhancement to be unacceptable, in part because they believed it to be unethical but there was a lack of consensus on whether it (...)
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  5. Francois Berger, Sjef Gevers, Ludwig Siep & Klaus-Michael Weltring (2008). Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Brain-Implants Using Nano-Scale Materials and Techniques. NanoEthics 2 (3):241-249.
    Nanotechnology is an important platform technology which will add new features like improved biocompatibility, smaller size, and more sophisticated electronics to neuro-implants improving their therapeutic potential. Especially in view of possible advantages for patients, research and development of nanotechnologically improved neuro implants is a moral obligation. However, the development of brain implants by itself touches many ethical, social and legal issues, which also apply in a specific way to devices enabled or improved by nanotechnology. For researchers developing nanotechnology such issues (...)
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  6. Ineke Bolt & Maartje Schermer (2009). Psychopharmaceutical Enhancers: Enhancing Identity? Neuroethics 2 (2):103-111.
    The use of psychopharmaceuticals to enhance human mental functioning such as cognition and mood has raised a debate on questions regarding identity and authenticity. While some hold that psychopharmaceutical substances can help users to ‘become who they really are’ and thus strengthen their identity and authenticity, others believe that the substances will lead to inauthenticity, normalization, and socially-enforced adaptation of behaviour and personality. In light of this debate, we studied how persons who actually have experience with the use of psychopharmaceutical (...)
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  7. Lisa Bortolotti (2009). Do We Have an Obligation to Make Smarter Babies? In T. Takala, P. Herrisone-Kelly & S. Holm (eds.), Cutting Through the Surface. Philosophical Approaches to Bioethics. Rodopi.
    In this paper I consider some issues concerning cognitive enhancements and the ethics of enhancing in reproduction and parenting. I argue that there are moral reasons to enhance the cognitive capacities of the children one has, or of the children one is going to have, and that these enhancements should not be seen as an alternative to pursuing important changes in society that might also improve one’s own and one’s children’s life. It has been argued that an emphasis on enhancing (...)
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  8. Lisa Bortolotti & John Harris (2006). Disability, Enhancement and the Harm -Benefit Continuum. In John R. Spencer & Antje Du Bois-Pedain (eds.), Freedom and Responsibility in Reproductive Choice. Hart Publishers.
    Suppose that you are soon to be a parent and you learn that there are some simple measures that you can take to make sure that your child will be healthy. In particular, suppose that by following the doctor’s advice, you can prevent your child from having a disability, you can make your child immune from a number of dangerous diseases and you can even enhance its future intelligence. All that is required for this to happen is that you (or (...)
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