St Cross Special Lecture (January 2010)

Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 17:30 - 19:30
Venue: St Cross Room, St Cross College, St Giles (map)
Speaker:  Dominic Wilkinson (Uehiro Centre and Ethox Centre, University of Oxford)
Title: "Neuroethics and Neonatal Prognosis"


Abstract:  Emerging technologies for assessing brain function give rise to a range of ethical and philosophical questions. The field of neuroethics has, to date, largely focussed on adults. However, there are also difficult questions raised by neuroscience for children and newborn infants. New forms of brain imaging have the potential to predict the nature as well as severity of future impairment for newborn infants, and such predictions play a significant role in decisions to continue or withdraw life-sustaining treatment in intensive care. In this paper I examine ethical issues raised by the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for infants with birth asphyxia. I review the science underpinning prognostic use of MRI in infants and argue that the scientific evidence is undermined by a failure to clarify the purpose of prognostication. Existing guidelines and case law are extremely vague about the level of impairment that would justify a decision to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment for a newborn infant. I will outline an alternative framework for interpreting the results of neuroimaging and determining whether it is permissible to allow a disabled newborn infant to die.
 
Booking:  Booking required. All interested in attending the talk and / or a dinner afterwards should email ethics@philosophy.ox.ac.uk.

 

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