Neuroethics and the lure of technology

In Judy Illes & Barbara J. Sahakian (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 895--907 (2011)
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Abstract

Neuroethics, as a domain of inquiry, was made necessary by this interdisciplinary march of technology that has been much documented and the resulting synergism, which resulted in the development of neuroimaging, deep brain stimulation, and advanced neuropharmaceutics. Closing the loop from discovery of basic mechanisms of illness to knowledge of structure and function en route to restorative therapeutics is a long way from earlier efforts to use electrical stimulation to address human maladies. The most challenging aspect about neuroethics is that the technology used by neuroscientists needs to be understood in order to offer responsible neuroethical critique. The technocentricity of neuroscience makes it especially vulnerable to broader market forces and the sway of political economy, all of which might be exacerbated by the recent fiscal melt down and recent trends in healthcare reform. These challenges are illustrated by investigational work exploring the use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state.

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Joseph Fins
Cornell University

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