A relatively new field is that of Neuroethics in which people attempt to discuss ethical responsibility in light of discoveries in neuroscience that question traditional concepts of Free Will, whatever they are. The National Core for Neuroethics at UBC attempts a definition.
the implications of new research in neuroscience for individuals, society, and culture are profound:
- How shall society respond as a better understanding of brain biology changes fundamental perceptions of self, moral responsibility, and beliefs?
- What guidelines are needed to manage staggering, and potentially life-endangering, increases in the use of medicines for children diagnosed with new or poorly understood variants of attention and mood disorders?
- What policies are needed to respond to a diversion of already scarce medical resources from quality and respectful care for the elderly?
- How will our privacy be protected in an ever-expanding information age?
- What hope can we expect from progress, and what should we fear?
It is at this juncture of ethics, human values, and neuroscience that neuroethics plays its critical role.
For a good introduction to the science of Free Will (or lack thereof) try Christof Koch in Scientific America.
But it’s Saturday, so we can state the problem with pictures and take a poke at superhero movies at the same time.