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Talk Notes on Neuroethics

  • Fernando Vidal

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Unheard of in the 1990s, neuroethics required just a few years in the early 2000s to gain autonomy from bioethics, professionalize itself, and develop networks, platforms, societies, journals, institutes, and teaching and research programs. While such extraordinarily rapid institutional consolidation deserves scrutiny, I hope here to call attention to the ideological foundations of the new discipline. The main explicit goal of the field is to examine and anticipate the ethical, social and legal consequences of neuroscientific knowledge and its applications. Military research, drug-control policy, technologies of the self, the limits of privacy, the administration of justice, the neuropsychiatric treatment of the mentally ill - these are among the main issues neuroethics intends to tackle. All of these issues are of course important, and ought to be reflected upon. The question is whether neuroethics, which plays along with many of the interests behind the "cerebralization" of personhood, is best placed to perform that task.

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