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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Neuroethics

Richard Marshall interviews Kathinka Evers
3:AM Magazine
Originally published December 20, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

So far, researchers in neuroethics have focused mainly on the ethics of neuroscience, or applied neuroethics, such as ethical issues involved in neuroimaging techniques, cognitive enhancement, or neuropharmacology. Another important, though as yet less prevalent, scientific approach that I refer to as fundamental neuroethics questions how knowledge of the brain’s functional architecture and its evolution can deepen our understanding of personal identity, consciousness and intentionality, including the development of moral thought and judgment. Fundamental neuroethics should provide adequate theoretical foundations required in order properly to address problems of applications.

The initial question for fundamental neuroethics to answer is: how can natural science deepen our understanding of moral thought? Indeed, is the former at all relevant for the latter? One can see this as a sub-question of the question whether human consciousness can be understood in biological terms, moral thought being a subset of thought in general. That is certainly not a new query, but a version of the classical mind-body problem that has been discussed for millennia and in quite modern terms from the French Enlightenment and onwards. What is comparatively new is the realisation of the extent to which ancient philosophical problems emerge in the rapidly advancing neurosciences, such as whether or not the human species as such possesses a free will, what it means to have personal responsibility, to be a self, the relations between emotions and cognition, or between emotions and memory.

The interview is here.
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