In this path breaking volume, leading researchers from psychology, linguistics, philosophy and primatology offer complementary perspectives on the role of intersubjectivity in the context of human development, comparative cognition and...
Objectives: To assess whether according to healthcare providers, the creation of an ethics service responds to a need; assess the importance of an ethics service for healthcare providers; determine what ethics services should be offered and the preferred formats of delivery; and identify key issues to be initially dealt with by the ethics service.Design: A survey of healthcare providers in Québec’s Centre Local de Services Communautaires , healthcare institutions dedicated to community health and social services.Findings: 96 respondents agreed that an (...) ethics service was needed, and on average the ethics service project was judged to be very important. Preferred formats for ethics consultation and education were identified, as well as key concerns such as the need of respect for the patient as a person, elder abuse and ethical issues in home care.Conclusion: This survey is helping in the implementation of an ethics service and can guide others in similar healthcare institutions. (shrink)
Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...) and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. (shrink)
A recent discussion on cognitive enhancers has caused some controversy in the ethics and neuroscience fields by coming out in favour of making neuropharmaceuticals with enhancing properties available for general consumption. We highlight in this brief commentary why concerns regarding efficacy and safety, demands on resources, and public health are substantive enough to warrant serious reconsideration before pharmaceutical performance enhancement can be widely supported.
In this article, we analyse content from two recent reports to examine how a public health framework to cognitive enhancement is emerging. We find that, in several areas, these reports provide population-level arguments both for and against the use of cognitive enhancers. In discussing these arguments, we look at how these reports are indicative of potentially innovative frameworks—epidemiological, risk/benefit and socio-historical—by which to explore the public health impact of cognitive enhancement. Finally, we argue that these reports are suggestive of both (...) tensions between the bioethical and public health approaches and are also indicative of how these two frameworks can, in part, be seen as complementary. (shrink)
Common understandings of neuroethics, i.e., of its distinctive nature, are premised on two distinct sets of claims: (1) neuroscience can change views about the nature of ethics itself and neuroethics is dedicated to reaping such an understanding of ethics; (2) neuroscience poses challenges distinct from other areas of medicine and science and neuroethics tackles those issues. Critiques have rightfully challenged both claims, stressing how the first may lead to problematic forms of reductionism while the second relies on debatable assumptions about (...) the nature of bioethics specialization and development. Informed by philosophical pragmatism and our experience in neuroethics, we argue that these claims are ill-founded and should give way to pragmatist reconstructions. Namely, neuroscience, much like other areas of empirical research on morality, can provide useful information about the nature of morally problematic situations but it does not need to promise radical and sweeping changes to ethics based on neuroscientism. Furthermore, the rationale for the development of neuroethics as a specialized field need not to be premised on the distinctive nature of the issues it tackles or of neurotechnologies. Rather, it can espouse an understanding of neuroethics as both a scholarly and a practical endeavor dedicated to resolving a series of problematic situations raised by neurological and psychiatric conditions. (shrink)
Stigma can influence the prevention and identification of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a leading cause of developmental delay in North America. Understanding the effects of public health practices and policies on stigma is imperative. We reviewed social science and biomedical literatures to understand the nature of stigma in FASD and its relevance from an ethics standpoint in matters of health practices and policies. We propose a descriptive model of stigma in FASD and note current knowledge gaps; discuss the ethical implications (...) of stigma based on two distinct criteria ; and describe two cases and the concerns associated with inadvertent stigmatization by public health initiatives for FASD. We recommend further empirical and ethical analyses to examine whether public health policies and practices inadvertently stigmatize and impact the success of public health initiatives and programs for FASD. (shrink)
The history and genesis of major public clinical ethics controversies is intimately related to the publication of opinions and responses in media coverage. To provide a sample of public response in the media, this paper reports the results of a content analysis of letters to editors published in the four most prolific American newspapers for the Schiavo controversy. Opinions expressed in the letters sampled strongly supported the use of living wills and strongly condemned public attention to the case as well (...) as political interventions. Letters tended to be against withdrawal of life support, proxy consent and associated procedures as well as against court decisions and legal procedures. In comparison with reports written by journalists, letters to editors contained fewer controversial claims about Schiavo''s neurological condition and behavioural repertoire but similar loaded language to describe withdrawal of life support. Distinct public discourses can be encountered in different stakeholders suggesting complex and extensive pluralism even within the media. (shrink)
Concerns about the possibility of a sharp rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in Western nations have led to both the significant deployment of resources and the development of national research and healthcare plans. Although often focused on treatment, substantial efforts have also been dedicated toward preventing or delaying AD onset. As a result, recent technological and biomedical advances have greatly improved the understanding of AD pathophysiology. While some new tests can assess only risk ), some tests for certain (...) biomarkers (e.g., amyloid beta accumulation in the brain detected via positron... (shrink)
In the article “Nudging and Informed Consent”, Cohen argues that the use of “nudging” by physicians in the clinical encounter may be ethically warranted because it results in an informed consent where obligations for beneficence and respect for autonomy are both met. However, the author's overenthusiastic support for nudging and his quick dismissal of shared decision-making leads him to assume that “soft” manipulation is un-problematic and that “wisdom” on the side of medical professionals will suffice to guard against abuse. Opposing (...) this view, we propose that: 1) patient preferences and values should not be boiled down to rational or irrational decisions based on cognitive reasoning alone, 2) potential threats to the physician-patient must be mitigated and could be minimized by employing alternative strategies that acknowledge the impact of cognitive heuristics in shaping decision-making but maintain transparency and trust, and 3) patient preferences and values can be legitimately influenced only under specific circumstances. The latter include: (1) exhaustion of other means; (2) evidence that nudging is effective in a specific context; (3) evidence of clear and active public misinformation (e.g., industry promoting smoking); (4) explicit pubic dialogue between various stakeholders including medical professional societies about nudging; (5) upholding shared decision-making as a preferred approach; and (6) a rich understanding of clinical reality beyond the simple dichotomy of beneficence-autonomy. (shrink)
Since the 1960s, scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals have developed brain–computer interface (BCI) technologies, connecting the user’s brain activity to communication or motor devices. This new technology has also captured the imagination of publics, industry, and ethicists. Academic ethics has highlighted the ethical challenges of BCIs, although these conclusions often rely on speculative or conceptual methods rather than empirical evidence or public engagement. From a social science or empirical ethics perspective, this tendency could be considered problematic and even technocratic because (...) of its disconnect from publics. In response, our trinational survey (Germany, Canada, and Spain) reports public attitudes toward BCIs (N = 1,403) on ethical issues that were carefully derived from academic ethics literature. The results show moderately high levels of concern toward agent-related issues (e.g., changing the user’s self) and consequence-related issues (e.g., new forms of hacking). Both facets of concern were higher among respondents who reported as female or as religious, while education, age, own and peer disability, and country of residence were associated with either agent-related or consequence-related concerns. These findings provide a first look at BCI attitudes across three national contexts, suggesting that the language and content of academic BCI ethics may resonate with some publics and their values. (shrink)
The debate on “cognitive enhancement” has moved from discussions about enhancement in adults to enhancement in children and adolescents. Similar to positions expressed in the adult context, some have argued that pediatric cognitive enhancement is acceptable and even laudable. However, the implications differ between the adult and the pediatric contexts. For example, in the debate over cognitive enhancement in adults, i.e., those who have legal majority, respect for autonomy demands that personal preferences not be overridden in absence of strong arguments (...) because competent adults are in the best position to recognize and protect their own interests. However, the concepts of best interest and autonomy provide a different picture in the case of pediatric enhancement. In the context of decision-making involving minors, it is assumed that the parents are in the best position to promote and protect the interests of their children and this is chiefly why they are granted the authority to make decisions on their behalf. However, we argue in favor of guarding the physical integrity of children from intrusive medical interventions without medical need and with clear and detrimental effects. We also support leaving open other legitimate life trajectory and career choices, as this is in the best interest of the child, even if they are less in line with the expectations of parents or success in educational settings. In addition, parental decision-making in favor of cognitive enhancement suffers from a lack of information about cognitive enhancers and potential biases. Thus, bearing in mind these issues and the development of volitional capacities of children, we argue that pediatric enhancement is not a morally acceptable practice and “inevitability” can be curbed with clear and fair rules that establish duties of state representatives, physicians, and public institutions. We conclude by canvassing evidence-based policy options that could protect the open future of minors and define the parameters of parental decision-making analogous to the cases of nicotine and alcohol. (shrink)
Let f be a function from N to N that can not be computed in polynomial time, and let a be an element of a differential field K of characteristic 0. The problem of large powers is the set of tuples x̄ = (x 1 ,..., x n ) of K so that x 1 = a f(n) , and the problem of large roots is the set of tuples x̄ of K so that x f(n) 1 = a. These (...) are two examples of problems that the use of derivation does not allow to solve quicker. We show that the problem of large roots is not polynomial for the differential field K, even if we use a polynomial number of parameters, and that the problem of large powers is not polynomial for the differential field K, even for non-uniform complexity. The proofs use the polynomial stability (i.e., the elimination of parameters) of field of characteristic 0, shown by L. Blum. F. Cucker. M. Shub and S. Smale, and the reduction lemma, that transforms a differential polynomial in variables x̄ into a polynomial in variables x̄. and their derivatives. (shrink)
In “Imaging or Imagining? A Neuroethics Challenge In- The assumption at issue here is the assumption that the formed by Genetics,” Judy Illes and Eric Racine (see this ismind literally is the brain (i.e., is numerically identical to sue) argue that “traditional bioethics analysis” (TBA), as de-.
First century Chinese, fifth century Indian, and Arabic documents from the 9th century onwards, contain similar tabular procedures to extract square and cube roots on place-value numeration systems. Moreover, an 11th century Chinese astronomer, Jia Xian, as well as al-Samaw'al, a 12th century Arab mathematician, extracted roots of higher order with the so-called Ruffini-Horner procedure. This article attempts to define a textual method to organize this corpus, by distinguishing relevant criteria for identifying similarities and differences from a historical as well (...) as conceptual point of view. The first part analyses three different states of the descriptions of algorithms in China between the 1st and the 11th centuries, all of which exhibit a definite historical stability. The rewriting which allows one to proceed progressively from one state to the next shows a uniformity in the components of the algorithm, which culminates in procedures of the type Ruffini-Horner. Textual criteria demonstrate a greater affinity of certain algorithms, such as those described by Kūshyār ibn Labbān with Chinese rather than with Indian texts, which are in turn closer to algorithms described by al-Khwārizmī. Criteria of the same kind link the algorithms of Jia Xian and al-Samaw'al on the one hand, and those of Kūshyār and al-Samaw'al on the other. Les documents chinois, depuis le I er siècle, indiens, depuis le V e siècle, et arabes, depuis le IX e siècle, contiennent des procédures tabulaires similaires pour l'extraction de racines carrées et cubiques avec des systèmes de numération positionnels. Par ailleurs tant Jia Xian, astronome chinois du XI e siècle, qu'al-Samaw'al, mathématicien arabe du XII e siècle, ont extrait des racines de degré plus élevé par la procédure dite de Ruffini-Horner. L'article tente de définir une méthode textuelle pour organiser ce corpus, en y distinguant des axes pertinents qui permettent de dégager similarités et différences, d'un point de vue tant historique que conceptuel. Une première partie analyse trois états différents des descriptions d'algorithmes entre le I er siècle et le XI e siècle en Chine, qui présentent chacun une stabilité historique certaine. La réécriture qui fait passer d'un état au suivant laisse émerger progressivement une uniformité dans les composantes de l'algorithme, laquelle culmine avec des procédures du type Ruffini-Horner. Des critères textuels font apparaître une affinité plus grande de certains algorithmes, tels ceux décrits par Kūshyār ibn Labbān, avec les textes chinois qu'avec les textes indiens, plus proches, eux, des algorithmes décrits par al-Khwārizmī. Des critères de même nature lient, d'une part, les algorithmes de Jia Xian et d'al-Samaw'al, d'autre part les algorithmes de Kūshyār et d'al-Samaw'al. (shrink)
In the debate on the ethics of the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals for cognitive performance enhancement in healthy individuals there is a clear division between those who view “cognitive enhancement” as ethically unproblematic and those who see such practices as fraught with ethical problems. Yet another, more subtle issue, relates to the relevance and quality of the contribution of scholarly bioethics to this debate. More specifically, how have various forms of speculation, anticipatory ethics, and methods to predict scientific trends and (...) societal responses augmented or diminished this contribution? In this paper, we use the discussion of the ethics of cognitive enhancement to explore the positive and negative contribution of speculation in bioethics scholarship. First, we review and discuss how speculation has relied on different sets of assumptions regarding the non-medical use of stimulants, namely: terminology and framing; scientific aspects such as efficacy and safety; estimates of prevalence and consequent normalization; and the need for normative reflection and regulatory guidelines. Second, three methodological guideposts are proposed to alleviate some of the pitfalls of speculation: acknowledge assumptions more explicitly and identify the value attributed to assumptions; validate assumptions with interdisciplinary literature; and adopt a broad perspective to promote more comprehensive reflection. We conclude that, through the examination of the controversy about cognitive enhancement, we can employ these methodological guideposts to enhance the value of contributions from bioethics and minimize potential epistemic and practical pitfalls in this case and perhaps in other areas of bioethical debate. (shrink)
G.E. Moore, more than either Bertrand Russell or Ludwig Wittgenstein, was chiefly responsible for the rise of the analytic method in twentieth-century philosophy. This selection of his writings shows Moore at his very best. The classic essays are crucial to major philosophical debates that still resonate today. Amongst those included are: * A Defense of Common Sense * Certainty * Sense-Data * External and Internal Relations * Hume's Theory Explained * Is Existence a Predicate? * Proof of an External World (...) In addition, this collection also contains the key early papers in which Moore signals his break with idealism, and three important previously unpublished papers from his later work which illustrate his relationship with Wittgenstein. (shrink)
BackgroundFunctional neurodiagnostics could allow researchers and clinicians to distinguish more accurately between the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and the minimally conscious state. It remains unclear how it informs surrogate decision-making.ObjectiveTo explore how the next of kin of patients with disorders of consciousness interpret the results of a functional neurodiagnostics measure and how/why their interpretations influence their attitudes towards medical decisions.Methods and SampleWe conducted problem-centered interviews with seven next of kin of patients with DOC who had undergone a functional HD-EEG examination at (...) a neurological rehabilitation center in Germany. The examination included an auditory oddball paradigm and a motor imagery task to detect hidden awareness. We analyzed the interview transcripts using structuring qualitative content analysis.ResultsRegardless of the diagnostic results, all participants were optimistic of the patients’ meaningful recovery. We hypothesize, that participants deal with the results of examinations according to their belief system. Thus, an unfavorable evaluation of the patient’s state had the potential to destabilize the participant’s belief system. To re-stabilize or to prevent the destabilization of their belief system, participants used different strategies. Participants accepted a “positive” HD-EEG result since it stabilized their belief system.ConclusionWe hypothesize, that a group of next of kin of patients with DOC deals with functional neurodiagnostics results on the basis of the result’s value and their high hope that the patient will recover meaningfully. A psychological mechanism seems to moderate the impact of functional neurodiagnostics on surrogate treatment decisions. (shrink)
Brain-Computer Interface is a set of technologies that are of increasing interest to researchers. BCI has been proposed as assistive technology for individuals who are non-communicative or paralyzed, such as those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or spinal cord injury. The technology has also been suggested for enhancement and entertainment uses, and there are companies currently marketing BCI devices for those purposes as well as health-related purposes. The unprecedented direct connection created by BCI between human brains and computer hardware raises various (...) ethical, social, and legal challenges that merit further examination and discussion. To identify and characterize the key issues associated with BCI use, we performed a scoping review of biomedical ethics literature, analyzing the ethics concerns cited across multiple disciplines, including philosophy and medicine. Based on this investigation, we report that BCI research and its potential translation to therapeutic intervention generate significant ethical, legal, and social concerns, notably with regards to personhood, stigma, autonomy, privacy, research ethics, safety, responsibility, and justice. Our review of the literature determined, furthermore, that while these issues have been enumerated extensively, few concrete recommendations have been expressed. We conclude that future research should focus on remedying a lack of practical solutions to the ethical challenges of BCI, alongside the collection of empirical data on the perspectives of the public, BCI users, and BCI researchers. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The prospects of enhancing cognitive or motor functions using neuroscience in otherwise healthy individuals has attracted considerable attention and interest in neuroethics (Farah et al., Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5:421–425, 2004; Glannon Journal of Medical Ethics 32:74–78, 2006). The use of stimulants is one of the areas which has propelled the discussion on the potential for neuroscience to yield cognition-enhancing products. However, we have found in our review of the literature that the paradigms used to discuss the non-medical use of stimulant (...) drugs prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) vary considerably. In this brief communication, we identify three common paradigms—prescription drug abuse, cognitive enhancement, and lifestyle use of pharmaceuticals—and briefly highlight how divergences between paradigms create important “ethics blind spots”. (shrink)
Is God's foreknowledge compatible with human freedom? One of the most attractive attempts to reconcile the two is the Ockhamistic view, which subscribes not only to human freedom and divine omniscience, but retains our most fundamental intuitions concerning God and time: that the past is immutable, that God exists and acts in time, and that there is no backward causation. In order to achieve all that, Ockhamists distinguish ‘hard facts’ about the past which cannot possibly be altered from ‘soft facts’ (...) about the past which are alterable, and argue that God's prior beliefs about human actions are soft facts about the past. (shrink)
An important contribution to the foundations of probability theory, statistics and statistical physics has been made by E. T. Jaynes. The recent publication of his collected works provides an appropriate opportunity to attempt an assessment of this contribution.
Direct-to-consumer advertising of healthcare products refers to a variety of marketing practices based on a combination of information and promotion strategies directed at consumers through different media such as radio and television broadcasts, newspaper and magazine ads, and, more recently, through the Internet. The principal form of marketing used by the pharmaceutical industry is the distribution of free samples to physicians but DTCA is an increasing part of global promotional spending for prescription drugs. Latest estimates suggest that DTCA now represents (...) an annual $3.2 billion enterprise for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Findings from the literature show that these substantial efforts are geared toward the newer pharmaceuticals for chronic conditions with huge market potentials. The lion's share is going to the 20 most prescribed pharmaceuticals. (shrink)
The application of neurostimulation techniques such as deep brain stimulation —often called a brain pacemaker for neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease —has generated “currents of hope.” Building on this hope, there is significant interest in applying neurostimulation to psychiatric disorders such as major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These emerging neurosurgical practices raise a number of important ethical and social questions in matters of resource allocation, informed consent for vulnerable populations, and commercialization of research.
Neuroethics is an interdisciplinary field that arose in response to novel ethical challenges posed by advances in neuroscience. Historically, neuroethics has provided an opportunity to synergize different disciplines, notably proposing a two-way dialogue between an ‘ethics of neuroscience’ and a ‘neuroscience of ethics’. However, questions surface as to whether a ‘neuroscience of ethics’ is a useful and unified branch of research and whether it can actually inform or lead to theoretical insights and transferable practical knowledge to help resolve ethical questions. (...) In this article, we examine why the neuroscience of ethics is a promising area of research and summarize what we have learned so far regarding its most promising goals and contributions. We then review some of the key methodological challenges which may have hindered the use of results generated thus far by the neuroscience of ethics. Strategies are suggested to address these challenges and improve the quality of research and increase neuroscience's usefulness for applied ethics and society at large. Finally, we reflect on potential outcomes of a neuroscience of ethics and discuss the different strategies that could be used to support knowledge transfer to help different stakeholders integrate knowledge from the neuroscience of ethics. (shrink)
The concept of free will has been heavily debated in philosophy and the social sciences. Its alleged importance lies in its association with phenomena fundamental to our understandings of self, such as autonomy, freedom, self-control, agency, and moral responsibility. Consequently, when neuroscience research is interpreted as challenging or even invalidating this concept, a number of heated social and ethical debates surface. We undertook a content analysis of media coverage of Libet’s et al.’s :623–642, 1983) landmark study, which is frequently interpreted (...) as posing a serious challenge to the existence of free will. Media descriptions of Libet et al.’s experiment provided limited details about the original study. Overall, many media articles reported that Libet et al.’s experiments undermined the existence of free will, despite acknowledging that several methodological limitations had been identified in the literature. A propensity to attribute greater credibility than warranted to neurobiological explanations could be at stake. (shrink)
There is mounting evidence that methylphenidate (MPH; Ritalin) is being used by healthy college students to improve concentration, alertness, and academic performance. One of the key concerns associated with such use of pharmaceuticals is the degree of freedom individuals have to engage in or abstain from cognitive enhancement (CE). From a pragmatic perspective, careful examination of the ethics of acts and contexts in which they arise includes considering coercion and social pressures to enhance cognition. We were interested in understanding how (...) university students, parents of university students, and healthcare providers viewed autonomy and coercion in CE using MPH. We found that perspectives converged on the belief that CE is a matter of personal and individual choice. Perspectives also converged on the existence of tremendous social pressures to perform and succeed. Parents emphasized personal responsibility and accountability for CE choices, and expressed feelings of worry, sadness and fear about CE. Students emphasized the importance of personal integrity in CE, expressed tolerance for personal choices of others, and highlighted the challenge that CE poses to maintaining one’s personal integrity. Healthcare providers emphasized the health consequences of CE. These results illustrate: (1) the importance of understanding how context is viewed in relation to perspectives on autonomous choice; (2) the limitations of individualistic libertarian approaches that do not consider social context; and (3) the ethical implications of public health interventions in a value-laden debate where perspectives diverge. (shrink)
Moral enhancement refers to the possibility of making individuals and societies better from a moral standpoint. A fierce debate has emerged about the ethical aspects of moral enhancement, notably because steering moral enhancement in a particular direction involves choosing amongst a wide array of competing options, and these options entail deciding which moral theory or attributes of the moral agent would benefit from enhancement. Furthermore, the ability and effectiveness of different neurotechnologies to enhance morality have not been carefully examined. In (...) this paper, we assess the practical feasibility of moral enhancement neurotechnologies. We reviewed the literature on neuroscience and cognitive science models of moral judgment and analyzed their implications for the specific target of intervention in moral enhancement. We also reviewed and compared evidence on available neurotechnologies that could serve as tools of moral enhancement. We conclude that the predictions of rationalist, emotivist, and dual process models are at odds with evidence, while different intuitionist models of moral judgment are more likely to be aligned with it. Furthermore, the project of moral enhancement is not feasible in the near future as it rests on the use of neurointerventions, which have no moral enhancement effects or, worse, negative effects. (shrink)
What is a natural kind ? As we shall see, the concept of a natural kind has a long history. Many of the interesting doctrines can be detected in Aristotle, were revived by Locke and Leibniz, and have again become fashionable in recent years. Equally there has been agreement about certain paradigm examples: the kinds oak, stickleback and gold are natural kinds, and the kinds table, nation and banknote are not. Sadly agreement does not extend much further. It is impossible (...) to discover a single consistent doctrine in the literature, and different discussions focus on different doctrines without writers or readers being aware of the fact. In this paper I shall attempt to find a defensible distinction between natural and non-natural kinds. (shrink)
International media have reported cases of pregnant women who have had their children apprehended by social services, or who were incarcerated or forced into treatment programs based on a history of substance use or lack of adherence to addiction treatment programs. Public discourse on the biology of addiction has been criticized for generating stigma and a diminished perception of self-control in individuals with an addiction, potentially contributing to coercive approaches and criminalization of women who misuse substances during pregnancy. We explored (...) whether this is the case based on literature from social psychology, ethics, addiction research, science communication, and philosophy. The literature shows that the relationship between public discourse on biological aspects of addiction and issues such as stigma and perceptions of diminished self-control are unclear, largely due to the complexity of these phenomena. However, concerns about the biological approach are nevertheless legitimate given the broader social and policy context of women’s health. (shrink)