Neuroethics 14 (Suppl 1):75-81 (2019)

Alexandre Erler
National Yang Ming University
Gilbert and colleagues are to be commended for drawing our attention to the need for a sounder empirical basis, and for more careful reasoning, in the context of the neuroethics debate on Deep Brain Stimulation and its potential impact on the dimensions of personality, identity, agency, authenticity, autonomy and self. While acknowledging this, this extended commentary critically examines their claim that the real-world relevance of the conclusions drawn in the neuroethics literature is threatened by the fact that the concepts at the center of the discussion have “weak empirical grounding”. First, I show that while some possible understandings of multifaceted concepts like identity, authenticity and autonomy may indeed be unsuitable for a purely empirical inquiry, this is not the case of all of them. Secondly, I call into question the authors’ apparent suggestion that reliance on constructs involving an irreducibly normative dimension makes for a suboptimal state of affairs, and that they should ideally be replaced with substitutes taken from the language of neuroscience or social science in order to ensure an adequate empirical grounding for the debate. Such a suggestion, I argue, commits the authors to a controversial reductionist view in metaethics that the valid empirical concerns they raise in the rest of their article do not presuppose, and which could potentially us lead to lose sight of important ethical considerations.
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DOI 10.1007/s12152-019-09412-9
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References found in this work BETA

The Constitution of Selves.Marya Schechtman (ed.) - 1996 - Cornell University Press.
Human Identity and Bioethics.David DeGrazia - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
The Constitution of Selves.Christopher Williams & Marya Schechtman - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):641.

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