Intervening in the brain: Changing psyche and society.

Springer (2007)


In recent years, neuroscience has been a particularly prolific discipline stimulating many innovative treatment approaches in medicine. However, when it comes to the brain, new techniques of intervention do not always meet with a positive public response, in spite of promising therapeutic benefits. The reason for this caution clearly is the brain’s special importance as “organ of the mind”. As such it is widely held to be the origin of mankind’s unique position among living beings. Likewise, on the level of the individual human being, the brain is considered the material substrate of those traits that in combination render each person unique. In view of this preeminent significance of the brain, it is understandable that, in general, interventions into the brain are considered a delicate issue and that new techniques of intervention are scrutinised with particular care. However, in doing so it is important not to go to the opposite extreme and shy away from promising new therapeutic approaches for debilitating disorders of the brain. With respect to the new techniques of brain intervention a broad interdisciplinary perspective is required to discern irrational fear from justified concern. Hence, the Europäische Akademie established a project group consisting, on the one hand, of experts from different fields of medicine who have got first-hand experience of applying the techniques at issue and, on the other hand, of philosophers and a legal expert. The task of this team was to review the state of the art with respect to each single technique of intervening in the brain, to indicate future developments, and to address the ethical and legal issues common to all of them. The project’s outcome is the book at hand.

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Dirk Hartmann
University of Duisburg-Essen

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.

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