Philosophical and Ethical Themes in Neuroscience

Since its formal establishment as a self-standing field, neuroethics has been divided into two subdefinitions: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience. While the neuroscience of ethics aims at explaining the way our brain works in relation to moral judgement, the ethics of neuroscience is a further expansion of bioethics: a discipline that wants to assess the moral dilemmas specifically raised by recent biotechnological advancements. As suggested by the title, this introductory course will focus on neuroethics in this latter sense, underlining the impact that discoveries concerning our brain can, do or will have on our society. Speculating over the ethical and political acceptability of certain innovations in the light of classical philosophical questions (i.e. What is justice? What constitutes a good life?) and other key terms necessary to understand the current debate (i.e. authenticity and personal identity, autonomy, responsibility and competence) will provide the groundworks for any further neuroethical investigation envisaged.