Neuromorality?

A church-based site, Vision.org, has published an interesting and thoughtful article by Thomas E. Fitzpatrick, Are We in Need of a Neuromorality? The article covers some of the same issues discussed in more detail in the book, Hard Science, Hard Choices by Sandra J. Ackerman, but is based largely on the comments of Martha J. Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. Some of the topics include the ethics of attempting to predict criminal behavior with neuroscience, whether society should concern itself with pharmaceutical enhancement of cognitive activity, whether addictions are diseases, etc.

Although the article couches the discussion in terms of “neuromorality,” in fact the topics are the same ones being debated by those interested in neuroethics. Fitzpatrick doesn’t explore a lot of new territory for those familiar with neuroethics debates, his article is a good primer for the newcomer to the field. If the topics of discussion seem intriguing, Ackerman’s book would be an excellent next step to understand what the experts in these areas think the controversies will be and – occasionally – how they might be resolved.

It is significant that the title of the article, “Are We in Need of a Neuromorality?”, is itself a question. As with most writing about the burgeoning field of neuroethics, the article raises plenty of questions but offers few answers.

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Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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