David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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American Journal of Bioethics 5 (2):5 – 18 (2005)
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 carefully and properly interpreting the relationship between brain findings and our own self-concept is unprecedented. Therefore, while the ethics of genetics provides a legitimate starting point - even a backbone - for tackling ethical issues in neuroimaging, they do not suffice. Drawing on recent neuroimaging findings and their plausible real-world applications, we argue that interpretation of neuroimaging data is a key epistemological and ethical challenge. This challenge is two-fold. First, at the scientific level, the sheer complexity of neuroscience research poses challenges for integration of knowledge and meaningful interpretation of data. Second, at the social and cultural level, we find that interpretations of imaging studies are bound by cultural and anthropological frameworks. In particular, the introduction of concepts of self and personhood in neuroimaging illustrates the interaction of interpretation levels and is a major reason why ethical reflection on genetics will only partially help settle neuroethical issues. Indeed, ethical interpretation of such findings will necessitate not only traditional bioethical input but also a wider perspective on the construction of scientific knowledge.
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References found in this work BETA
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Citations of this work BETA
Adina L. Roskies (2006). Neuroscientific Challenges to Free Will and Responsibility. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10 (9):419-423.
Stacey A. Tovino (2007). Functional Neuroimaging and the Law: Trends and Directions for Future Scholarship. American Journal of Bioethics 7 (9):44 – 56.
Adina L. Roskies (2008). Neuroimaging and Inferential Distance. Neuroethics 1 (1):19-30.
Fritz Allhoff (2007). On the Autonomy and Justification of Nanoethics. NanoEthics 1 (3):185-210.
Joseph J. Fins (2008). A Leg to Stand On: Sir William Osler and Wilder Penfield's "Neuroethics". American Journal of Bioethics 8 (1):37 – 46.
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