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Neuroethics: Two traditions at the intersection of mind, meaning, and morality
 

Neuroethics: Two traditions at the intersection of mind, meaning, and morality

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The Hastings Center ...

The Hastings Center
The World of Bioethics Seminar
Friday, December 4, 2009

Neuroethics: Two traditions at the intersection of mind, meaning and morality

Presented by: James Giordano

Since 2002, neuroethics has come to include two sorts of research: the first relating to the neurological basis of moral knowledge, sense and actions, and the second referring to the ethics of neuroscientific research and applications. This lecture will address both of these traditions and their relation to one another. It will ground neuroethics in the hard questions of neuroscience, and the problems that arise when we must rely on partial or contingent knowledge.

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Neuroethics: Two traditions at the intersection of mind, meaning, and morality Neuroethics: Two traditions at the intersection of mind, meaning, and morality Presentation Transcript

  • a nonpartisan research institution dedicated to bioethics and the public interest since 1969 the world of bioethics seminar Neuroethics: Two Traditions at the Intersection of Mind, Meaning and Morality Presented by James Giordano December 4, 2009
  • Neuroethics: Two Traditions at the Intersection of Mind, Meaning and Morality…from the Cave to the Crest James Giordano, Ph.D. Center for Neurotechnology Studies Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA, USA And Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics and Uehiro Centre for Practical Philosophy University of Oxford, UK the world of bioethics seminar
  • Definitions  Neuro: about or in reference to the structure or function of nervous systems  Ethics: systematic study of the processes and basis of moral decision making  Neuroethics: 1) the study of the neural basis of morality (and ethics) 2) the ethical issues, questions and problems that arise in and from neuroscientific research and its applications. the world of bioethics seminar
  • Neuroscience…  Has made huge and rapid leaps by using technology to study and understand neural structure and function. •96-99% fiscal devotion to RDTE  Ethical, legal and social risk assessment tends to lag behind, and is reactive vs. proactive •1-4% fiscal devotion the world of bioethics seminar
  • Neuroethics Conjoins the major tasks of philosophy: 1. Epistemic 2. Anthropologic 3. Ethical … to (a) foster neuroscience qua science (b) bridge technical capability and moral consideration (c) bridge past to present to future the world of bioethics seminar
  • From Philosophy: The Hard Questions  Addressing the “hard questions” of neuroscience and neurophilosophy •What is consciousness? •What is the mind? •What is/ is there a “self”? the world of bioethics seminar
  • Engaging Science: The Hardware- Program Questions 1) If something has the “hardware”, does that mean it can run the “program” 2) How does the “program” affect the “hardware” 3) What makes “you” - YOU? • Genes? • Brain? • Mind? the world of bioethics seminar
  • The “Ethical Turn”: What is the “Good”? How do these constructs impact scope and nature of research 1. Technologic applications 2. Use of pharmacology 3. Transplantation 4. Genomics the world of bioethics seminar
  • Ethico-legal Concerns: Because We Can Do Something, Should We?  Research • How “far” should we study what it means to “be” a mind?  Technology • Should we link brains/minds to machines?  Drugs? • Treatment or enhancement?  Cyborgs? • Databanking mental function, silicon selves, moral status  Transplantation/stem cells • Moral status questions • How much is too much?  Genomics/xenochimeroplasty • What might we make? the world of bioethics seminar
  • Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Intersection The “million dollar question”… “Who gets the goodies?”  How do we address/resolve socio-cultural tension(s)?  Based upon what criteria?  What system of commutative or distributive justice?  What economic paradigm? the world of bioethics seminar
  • The Pros and Cons  Pro: • A natural need to “know” and intervene inherent to “human flourishing” “Inquiry and action is both right and good”  Con: • Partial knowledge in areas of profound impact effect broad and unforeseen consequences. “There are intellectual and moral limits upon inquiry” These need to be balanced… the world of bioethics seminar
  • “Cognitive Crest”  Propelled by progress  Position determines vision  Views of potential futures  Responsible for “surfing the wave” and determining “our directions” the world of bioethics seminar
  • “Surfing the Cognitive Crest” Obligates acknowledgement of  Trajectory  Potential Impact  Manifestations  Limitations Balancing Act (and “Skill”)…Tekne the world of bioethics seminar
  • How? 1. Recognize • (a) the ‘status quo is progress’, • (b) boundaries and frontiers • “…the new is always unpredictable” 2. Appreciate that conditions at the boundaries/frontiers may be ‘different’ • Wexelblatt’s Law: “Nature has a nasty sense of humor” 3. Weigh and balance optimism, pessimism and pragmatism the world of bioethics seminar
  • Establish Groundwork Questions 1. What are the risks (known and possible)? 2. Are there unique ethical, legal, social issues? 3. What risk-analyses and ethical assessments can be used? 4. How do (novel) situations militate which risk-analyses and ethical approaches should be used? Ethics = formal, systematized approach Situations = application = variable the world of bioethics seminar
  • Risk- and Ethical Management Paradigm 4Ps:  Precautionary • acknowledging status quo involves progress  Personnel • perceptive • pragmatic • persistent  Predictions • possibilities • paradoxes • problems: containable, retrievable, reversible and/or forgivable?  Policies the world of bioethics seminar
  • What NOT to do… the world of bioethics seminar
  • “Where might we be going?” the world of bioethics seminar
  • “Where might we find ourselves?” the world of bioethics seminar
  • The Work of Neuroethics…  Reflection, insight and moral pause must be the stepping stone for all future acts of inquiry, invention and intervention…  “Measure twice, cut once”, for all too often, there is no turning back. the world of bioethics seminar
  • Acknowledgements  Funded in part by the Nour Foundation, Office of Naval Research, CTNS-STARS, and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies  Thanks to Sherry Loveless for graphic artistry the world of bioethics seminar
  • Selected Readings  Giordano J. Pain: Mind, Meaning and Medicine. PPM Communications, Glen Falls, PA 2009.  Giordano J, Boswell MV (eds.) Pain Medicine: Philosophy, Ethics, and Policy. Linton Atlantic Books, Oxon, UK, 2009.  Giordano J, Gordijn B. (eds.) Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2009.  Giordano J, Benedikter R. The future of humanity: Biotechnology and the trans- and post-human possibilities. J. Futures Studies (2009)  Giordano J. The neuroscience of pain, and the neuroethics of pain care. Neuroethics 2:1 (2009).  Giordano J, McBride DK. Anticipating biotechnological trends in pain care. Prac Pain Management 9(5): 74-78 (2009).  Giordano J, Engebretson J, Benedikter R. Pain and culture: Considerations for meaning and context. Cambridge Quarterly Rev.Healthcare Ethics, 77: 45-59 (2008). the world of bioethics seminar
  • a nonpartisan research institution dedicated to bioethics and the public interest since 1969 thehastingscenter.org Find us on Facebook facebook.com/ Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/hastingscenter