Neuroethics is an emerging interdisciplinary field of inquiry that draws on ethics, cognitive neuroscience, psychopharmacology, psychiatry, law, bioengineering, and good, old-fashioned neurology in whatever mixture those involved in a particular endeavour deem appropriate (for them, at least). The Canadian, CIHR-funded Neuroethics Net (in place since 2003), for example, has a focus on pediatric uses of fMRI and other imaging technologies, for example. A cruise through a couple of blogs, like Brain Ethics or Neuroethics and Law will give you a broader sense of what some include under the heading “neuroethics”.
Like nearly all hyphenated things neuro- — neurophilosophy, neuroeconomics, neurobiopsychoecoevodevomicronanoeverythingism, to take just three examples — there’s not just hyphenation but hyper-nation in them there starry-eyed neuroethical enthusiasms. But since this train has already left the station and is coming down the track to a stop near YOU, What Sorters best be paying attention. There’s a lot of potential for those thinking constructively about diversity, (ok, yeah, including “neurodiversity”), difference, and the social uses of technology to create (or not) certain sorts of people to do more than merely stay tuned. Transhumanism, the enhancement of “normal abilities”–like the ability of soldiers to be efficient killing machines–and the treatment of psychiatric disorders through the massage of the wetware through pharmacological means or more permanent adjustments to brainware via surgical replacement or supplementation–these are all fair game within someone or other’s neuroethics.
No doubt, we’ll have some active blogging on neuroethics here at What Sorts some time down the track. But if anyone has any stories or comments in the meantime, fire away!