Ethics of neuroscience, neuroscience of ethics
Technologies that were considered previously as belonging to the realm of science-fiction could soon become real options as a result of the dramatic development of Neurosciences of the last 20 years. To cite just a few examples:
o modifying our moods or intellectual abilities using drugs or other devices (“neuro-enhancement”)
o repairing the brain using neural transplants (neural tissue, stem cells)
o using brain-machine interfaces to read our minds, transfer memories, replace lost functions
o merging the brain and computers, as proposed by transhumanists
These technology-based innovations raise obvious ethical questions. Should we do what we are technically able to do? Is the use of these tools compatible with our current moral values, should we re-evaluate these values? What are the ethical limits we can accept as individuals and/or as a society? These broad interrogations are of outmost importance when dealing with the brain, seat of our personality and humanity. Conversely, new data on brain functioning interrogate our conception of morality, human responsibility and free will.
Aware of the need to address these issues, the AMU ICN PhD program in Neuroscience has set up a special session on Neuroethics, an emerging discipline. Lectures, delivered by outstanding specialists in the field, will address the following topics:
o Eric Racine (Montreal). Ethics of neuroenhancement: a view from philosophical pragmatism.
o Jens Clausen (Tübingen). Neuroethics of brain-hardware interface.
o Jennifer Chandler (Ottawa). The Brain in the Courtroom: the Legal Implications of Neuroscience.
o Athena Demertzi (Paris). Functional neuroimaging in patients with disorders of consciousness: what to care about?
o Bernard Baertschi (Geneva). The neuroscience of moral judgment and its ethical implications.