Ethics and Neuroscience Publication date : February 12, 2009
Since the brain is the organ that enables us to know, feel, think and act, it is also the place where our moral personality is constructed and where our ideas of right and wrong are formed. Having revolutionised our understanding of the brain, the neurosciences have led to a renewal of moral philosophy and to the development of the new discipline of neuroethics.
Let us first look at fundamental neuroethics, which investigates consciousness, self-awareness and personal identity. What is freedom? What is the meaning of responsibility? Where do norms and values come from?
Today, these basic philosophical issues must be addressed in light of brain sciences and the brain's functional architecture.
This leads us to applied neuroethics, which covers ethical issues associated with new neuroimaging techniques and neuropharmacology.
This book, which grew out of four lectures the author gave at the Collège de France, offers a clear and accessible explanation — the first in French — of the new academic discipline of neuroethics. Inspired by the works of Jean-Pierre Changeux, Kathinka Evers develops an informed materialist view of the brain, keeping it within the limits of scientific naturalism while respecting the human person.
Neuroethics brings together neuroscience, biology, moral philosophy, philosophy of mind and anthropology. This work of synthesis, written in non-technical language by a knowledgeable philosopher, will interest specialists and students as well as the general reader who wishes to reflect upon the moral and philosophical implications of scientific findings concerning the brain.
Kathinka Evers is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Ethics and Bioethics at Uppsala University (Sweden).