What is Neuroethics?
Neuroethics is a branch of bioethics that addresses ethical, legal, social and cultural issues and concerns generated by the development and use of neuroscience and neurotechnology, as well as by their possible impact on the nature of human beings and other organisms.
Nowadays, neuroscience and neurotechnology have developed innovative, advanced and sophisticated tools and techniques to successfully study the brain and its processes, all of which has generated copious amounts of new and unprecedented information. This information has contributed to the better understanding of several neuropsychiatric pathologies and to the improvement of patients’ quality of life.
That being said, part of said information includes new knowledge concerning characteristic features of the mind, which also happen to be characteristic features of what we understand by human person (conscience, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, morality, empathy, decision-making, free will, personal identity, etc.). Furthermore, neuroscience and neurotechnology have succeeded not only in evaluating and intervening in such processes but also in replicating them in the form of artificial intelligence. As a result, advances in brain sciences have given rise to major global concerns and debates regarding the human essence and condition. Some of these concerns include:
- Cognitive, emotional and moral enhancement,
- Manipulation and/or alteration of free will, personal identity and personality,
- Crime liability,
- Implications in children and adolescents,
- Distributive justice,
- Transnational and cross-cultural use, and
- Use for defense and social security.
Therefore, neuroethics, as a formal discipline, is devoted to the study and analysis of these issues as well as the ethical, legal, social, cultural, public-policy and safety implications.