Research

Neuroethics is arguably the most rapidly advancing and exciting field of research in biomedical ethics today because it addresses head-on the two most important subjects relevant to who we are and how we live: the brain and mind. The Centre's research will address the following questions:

1. Primary Neuroethical Research

I. Cognitive Enhancement

  • What constitutes enhancement?
  • Is enhancement morally permissable, even required, or is its pursuit morally hazardous?
  • To the extent that enhancement is permissable, what would be the social and global effects of widespread use?

 II. Borderline Consciousness and Severe Neurological Impairment

  • What would be adequate criteria for ascribing consciousness to severely brain-damaged patients?
  • What is the moral significance of consciousness?

III. Free Will Moral Responsibility and Addiction

  • Can neuroscientific knowledge increase our ability to attribute moral and criminal responsibility?
  • How might self-control be strengthened?  
IV. The neuroscience of morality and decision-making

  • Do these scientific findings show some normative beliefs and practices to be defective, and if so, can we develop ways of improving moral judgement?
  • To the extent that it becomes possible to enhance or manipulate rationality or moral judgement, what ethical principles and contraints should govern such interventions?
2. Applied Neuroethics

In addition to the above primary research, the Centre will conduct applied research in other areas in light of input from practicing clinicians and scientists. We shall: (1) analyse technological advances as they occur; (2) respond to ethical issues arising from basic and clinical neuroscience.