Ethics of neuroscience, neuroscience of ethics



Technologies that were considered previously as belonging to the realm of science-fiction could soon become real options as a result of the dramatic development of Neurosciences of the last 20 years. To cite just a few examples:

  • modifying our moods or intellectual abilities using drugs or other devices ("neuro-enhancement")
  • repairing the brain using neural transplants (neural tissue, stem cells)
  • using brain-machine interfaces to read our minds, transfer memories, replace lost functions
  • merging the brain and computers, as proposed by transhumanists

These technology-based innovations raise obvious ethical questions. Should we do what we are technically able to do? Is the use of these tools compatible with our current moral values, should we re-evaluate these values? What are the ethical limits we can accept as individuals and/or as a society? These broad interrogations are of utmost importance when dealing with the brain, seat of our personality and humanity. Conversely, new data on brain functioning interrogate our conception of morality, human responsibility and free will.

Watch a video on what is neuroethics here: 



9h - 9h15        Jean-Paul Herman : Introduction
9h15 - 10h15   Eric Racine (Montreal) : Ethics of neuroenhancement: A view from philosophical pragmatism
10h15 - 11h15  Jens Clausen (Tübingen) : Neuroethics of brain-hardware interface.
11h15 - 11h30  Coffee break
11h30  - 12h30 Athena Demertzi (Paris) : Functional neuroimaging in patients with disorders of consciousness: what to care about ?
12h30 - 14h     Lunch
14h - 15h         Jennifer Chandler (Ottawa) : The Brain in the Courtroom :  The Legal Implications of the Neurosciences

15h – 16h        Bernard Baertschi (Geneva) : The neuroscience of moral judgment and its ethical implications

16h - 16h15     Coffee break
16h15 - 17h15  General discussion



Gastaut Hall

Aix-Marseille University

Neurosciences Institute of Timone

27 Boulevard Jean Moulin

13005 Marseille


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