Neuroethics

In Vilayanur Ramachandran (ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2e. Elsevier (2011)
Abstract
According to Adina Roskies, the neuroscience of ethics is concerned with a neuroscientific understanding of the brain processes that underpin moral judgment and behavior. The ethics of neuroscience, on the other hand, includes the potential impact advances in neuroscience may have on social, moral and philosophical ideas and institutions, as well as the ethical principles that should guide brain research, treatment of brain disease, and cognitive enhancement. This entry discusses these different aspects of neuroethics, with a special focus on the way in which neuroscience might impact our sense of self and personal responsibility, a concern that cuts across these categories. For example, I discuss whether advancing knowledge of brain states or processes undermine common notions of free will and responsibility. I also examine whether certain treatments of brain abnormality are ethical (is it acceptable to irreversibly ‘cure’ pedophilia or obsessive/compulsive disorder?), a discussion that falls squarely under the category of the ethics of neuroscience. Finally, I discuss whether the neuroscience of ethics can provide insight into who should be deemed criminally responsible via a neuroscientific analysis of intentional action.
Keywords neuroethics  bioethics
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