Epistemological considerations on neuroimaging – a crucial prerequisite for neuroethics

Bioethics 23 (6):340-348 (2009)
Abstract
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 involved, especially when experiments are designed to answer questions pertaining to broad concepts like the self, empathy or moral intentions. Interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks are needed to integrate findings from the life sciences and the humanities and to translate between them. While these epistemological issues are not specific for neuroimaging, there are some reasons why they are of special importance in this context: Due to their inferential proximity, 'neuro-images' seem to be self-evident, suggesting directness of observation and objectivity. This has to be critically discussed to prevent overinterpretation. Additionally, there is a high level of attention to neuroimaging, leading to a high frequency of presentation of neuroimaging data and making the critical examination of their epistemological properties even more pressing. Conclusions: Epistemological considerations are an important prerequisite for neuroethics. The presentation and communication of the results of neuroimaging studies, the potential generation of new phenomena and new 'dysfunctions' through neuroimaging, and the influence on central concepts at the foundations of ethics will be important future topics for this discipline.
Keywords neuroscience  neuroimaging  neuroethics  epistemology  philosophy of science
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,357
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-06-16

    Total downloads

    28 ( #52,587 of 1,088,403 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,601 of 1,088,403 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.