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John Harris
The continuing debate between Persson and Savulescu and myself over moral enhancement concerns two dimensions of a very large question. The large question is: what exactly makes something a moral enhancement? This large question needs a book length study and this I provide in my How to be Good, Oxford 2016. (JH 2016). In their latest paper Moral Bioenhancement, Freedom and Reason take my book as their point of departure and the first dimension of the big question they address is one that emphasizes a distinction, not highlighted in their original 2008 paper, between a moral enhancement that will ensure an improvement in morality and one that will simply make people more motivated to be moral...
2016: Neuroethics
Ingmar Persson, Julian Savulescu
In this paper we reply to the most important objections to our advocacy of moral enhancement by biomedical means - moral bioenhancement - that John Harris advances in his new book How to be Good. These objections are to effect that such moral enhancement undercuts both moral reasoning and freedom. The latter objection is directed more specifically at what we have called the God Machine, a super-duper computer which predicts our decisions and prevents decisions to perpertrate morally atrocious acts. In reply, we argue first that effective moral bioenhancement presupposes moral reasoning rather than undermines it...
2016: Neuroethics
Tineke Broer, Martyn Pickersgill, Ian J Deary
Media reporting of science has consequences for public debates on the ethics of research. Accordingly, it is crucial to understand how the sciences of the brain and the mind are covered in the media, and how coverage is received and negotiated. The authors report here their sociological findings from a case study of media coverage and associated reader comments of an article ('Does bilingualism influence cognitive aging?') from Annals of Neurology. The media attention attracted by the article was high for cognitive science; further, as associates/members of the Centre where it was produced, the authors of the research reported here had rare insight into how the scientists responsible for the Annals of Neurology article interacted with the media...
2016: Neuroethics
Michael Nair-Collins, Mary A Gerend
Two experiments investigated whether moral evaluations of organ transplantation influence judgments of death and causation. Participants' beliefs about whether an unconscious organ donor was dead and whether organ removal caused death in a hypothetical vignette varied depending on the moral valence of the vignette. Those who were randomly assigned to the good condition (vs. bad) were more likely to believe that the donor was dead prior to organ removal and that organ removal did not cause death. Furthermore, attitudes toward euthanasia and organ donation independently predicted judgments of death and causation, regardless of experimental condition...
2015: Neuroethics
Hannah Maslen, Jonathan Pugh, Julian Savulescu
There is preliminary evidence, from case reports and investigational studies, to suggest that Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) could be used to treat some patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Although this research is at an early stage, the invasive nature of the intervention and the vulnerability of the potential patients are such that anticipatory ethical analysis is warranted. In this paper, we first show how different treatment mechanisms raise different philosophical and ethical questions. We distinguish three potential mechanisms alluded to in the neuroscientific literature, relating to desire, control, and emotion, respectively...
2015: Neuroethics
Shreeya Popat, William Winslade
In terms of medical science and legal responsibility, the sleep disorder category of parasomnias, chiefly REM sleep behavior disorder and somnambulism, pose an enigmatic dilemma. During an episode of parasomnia, individuals are neither awake nor aware, but their actions appear conscious. As these actions move beyond the innocuous, such as eating and blurting out embarrassing information, and enter the realm of rape and homicide, their degree of importance and relevance increases exponentially. Parasomnias that result in illegal activity, particularly violence, are puzzling phenomena for medicine and the law...
2015: Neuroethics
Rowan P Sommers, Roy Dings, Koen I Neijenhuijs, Hannah Andringa, Sebastian Arts, Daphne van de Bult, Laura Klockenbusch, Emiel Wanningen, Leon C de Bruin, Pim F G Haselager
Our think tank tasked by the Dutch Health Council, consisting of Radboud University Nijmegen Honours Academy students with various backgrounds, investigated the implications of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for psychiatric patients. During this investigation, a number of methodological, ethical and societal difficulties were identified. We consider these difficulties to be a reflection of a still fragmented field of research that can be overcome with improved organization and communication. To this effect, we suggest that it would be useful to found a centralized DBS organization...
2015: Neuroethics
Lisa Bortolotti, Matthew R Broome, Matteo Mameli
What factors should be taken into account when attributing criminal responsibility to perpetrators of severe crimes? We discuss the Breivik case, and the considerations which led to holding Breivik accountable for his criminal acts. We put some pressure on the view that experiencing certain psychiatric symptoms or receiving a certain psychiatric diagnosis is sufficient to establish criminal insanity. We also argue that the presence of delusional beliefs, often regarded as a key factor in determining responsibility, is neither necessary nor sufficient for criminal insanity...
2014: Neuroethics
Natalie Ball, Gregor Wolbring
Cognitive enhancement is an increasingly discussed topic and policy suggestions have been put forward. We present here empirical data of views of parents of children with and without cognitive disabilities. Analysis of the interviews revealed six primary overarching themes: meanings of health and treatment; the role of medicine; harm; the 'good' parent; normality and self-perception; and ability. Interestingly none of the parents used the term ethics and only one parent used the term moral twice.
2014: Neuroethics
G Owen Schaefer, Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu
Some have objected to human enhancement on the grounds that it violates the autonomy of the enhanced. These objections, however, overlook the interesting possibility that autonomy itself could be enhanced. How, exactly, to enhance autonomy is a difficult problem due to the numerous and diverse accounts of autonomy in the literature. Existing accounts of autonomy enhancement rely on narrow and controversial conceptions of autonomy. However, we identify one feature of autonomy common to many mainstream accounts: reasoning ability...
2014: Neuroethics
Thomas Douglas
It is plausible that we have moral reasons to become better at conforming to our moral reasons. However, it is not always clear what means to greater moral conformity we should adopt. John Harris has recently argued that we have reason to adopt traditional, deliberative means in preference to means that alter our affective or conative states directly-that is, without engaging our deliberative faculties. One of Harris' concerns about direct means is that they would produce only a superficial kind of moral improvement...
2014: Neuroethics
Jacob Gipson, Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu
BACKGROUND: Whether patients in the vegetative state (VS), minimally conscious state (MCS) or the clinically related locked-in syndrome (LIS) should be kept alive is a matter of intense controversy. This study aimed to examine the moral attitudes of lay people to these questions, and the values and other factors that underlie these attitudes. METHOD: One hundred ninety-nine US residents completed a survey using the online platform Mechanical Turk, comprising demographic questions, agreement with treatment withdrawal from each of the conditions, agreement with a series of ethical principles and three personality tests...
2014: Neuroethics
Ralf J Jox, Katja Kuehlmeyer
Disorders of consciousness pose a substantial ethical challenge to clinical decision making, especially regarding the use of life-sustaining medical treatment. For these decisions it is paramount to know whether the patient is aware or not. Recent brain research has been striving to assess awareness by using mainly functional magnetic resonance imaging. We review the neuroscientific evidence and summarize the potential and problems of the different approaches to prove awareness. Finally, we formulate the crucial ethical questions and outline the different articles in this special issue on disorders of consciousness...
April 2013: Neuroethics
Orsolya Friedrich
Recent results from neuroimaging appear to indicate that some patients in a vegetative state have partially intact awareness. These results may demonstrate misdiagnosis and suggest the need not only for alternative forms of treatment, but also for the reconsideration of end-of-life decisions in cases of disorders of consciousness. This article addresses the second consequence. First, I will discuss which aspects of consciousness may be involved in neuroimaging findings. I will then consider various factors relevant to ethical end-of-life decision-making, and analyse whether and to what extent the above consequence applies to these factors...
April 2013: Neuroethics
Lene Bomann-Larsen
Criminal offenders may be offered to participate in voluntary rehabilitation programs aiming at correcting undesirable behaviour, as a condition of early release. Behavioural treatment may include direct intervention into the central nervous system (CNS). This article discusses under which circumstances voluntary rehabilitation by CNS intervention is justified. It is argued that although the context of voluntary rehabilitation is a coercive circumstance, consent may still be effective, in the sense that it can meet formal criteria for informed consent...
April 2013: Neuroethics
Gregor Wolbring
The time is near where 'therapeutic' bodily assistive devices, developed to mimic species-typical body structures in order to enable normative body functioning, will allow the wearer to outperform the species-typical body in various functions. Although such devices are developed for people that are seen to exhibit sub species-typical abilities, many 'therapeutic enhancements' might also be desired and used by people that exhibit species-typical body abilities. This paper presents the views of members of the World Federation of the Deaf on potential beyond species-typical abilities enabling therapeutic assistive devices (i...
2013: Neuroethics
Femke Nijboer, Jens Clausen, Brendan Z Allison, Pim Haselager
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) research and (future) applications raise important ethical issues that need to be addressed to promote societal acceptance and adequate policies. Here we report on a survey we conducted among 145 BCI researchers at the 4(th) International BCI conference, which took place in May-June 2010 in Asilomar, California. We assessed respondents' opinions about a number of topics. First, we investigated preferences for terminology and definitions relating to BCIs. Second, we assessed respondents' expectations on the marketability of different BCI applications (BCIs for healthy people, BCIs for assistive technology, BCIs-controlled neuroprostheses and BCIs as therapy tools)...
2013: Neuroethics
Laura Klaming, Pim Haselager
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-accepted treatment for movement disorders and is currently explored as a treatment option for various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Several case studies suggest that DBS may, in some patients, influence mental states critical to personality to such an extent that it affects an individual's personal identity, i.e. the experience of psychological continuity, of persisting through time as the same person. Without questioning the usefulness of DBS as a treatment option for various serious and treatment refractory conditions, the potential of disruptions of psychological continuity raises a number of ethical and legal questions...
2013: Neuroethics
Fran├žoise Baylis
This article explores the notion of the dislocated self following deep brain stimulation (DBS) and concludes that when personal identity is understood in dynamic, narrative, and relational terms, the claim that DBS is a threat to personal identity is deeply problematic. While DBS may result in profound changes in behaviour, mood and cognition (characteristics closely linked to personality), it is not helpful to characterize DBS as threatening to personal identity insofar as this claim is either false, misdirected or trivially true...
2013: Neuroethics
Karsten Witt, Jens Kuhn, Lars Timmermann, Mateusz Zurowski, Christiane Woopen
Ethical evaluation of deep brain stimulation as a treatment for Parkinson's disease is complicated by results that can be described as involving changes in the patient's identity. The risk of becoming another person following surgery is alarming for patients, caregivers and clinicians alike. It is one of the most urgent conceptual and ethical problems facing deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease at this time. In our paper we take issue with this problem on two accounts. First, we elucidate what is meant by "becoming another person" from a conceptual point of view...
2013: Neuroethics
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