Personal identity and the nature of the self

In James J. Giordano & Bert Gordijn (eds.), Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics. Cambridge University Press (2010)

Pedro Miguel Ferrão Costa
Universidade de Lisboa
What is a person? What is the self? In the essay, I try to explore the historical roots of contemporary anxieties over the impact that the novel neurotechnologies and the new, rapidly accumulating scientific knowledge of the brain may have on our sense of self. My conclusion is that the allegedly novel situation is not so novel, after all, and that, in fact, we are still moving along a track opened long ago by early-modern transformations in Western culture. This, of course, does not mean that we are not going to face serious problems, but only that we already have the intellectual resources to cope with them effectively (in so far as we consider them to be manageable issues). In the end, neuroethical dilemmas will turn out to be another variety of modern metaphysical and moral quandaries.
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