Contemporary Debates in Bioethics – Neuroethics

Institute for Biomedical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Basel

Course start: February 20, 2017

Course coordinator: Marcello Ienca

Course description:

With the unprecedented progress in the basic sciences of mind & brain and in the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders, comes an expanding role of neuroscience and neurotechnology in our society. These advancements also raise novel ethical challenges.


What light does neuroscience shed on how human beings make moral judgments? Might neuroscience show that we cannot be responsible for our behaviors? What are the ethical limits of neurosurgery? Is it permissible for healthy people to enhance their cognition with drugs? What is the ethical use of assistive technologies among older adults with dementia? For what purposes should it be allowed to use brain stimulation and what implications arise from its use? Do we have a right to brain privacy which protects our private thoughts? Should defense agencies fund neurotechnology research for military purposes? What neuroscientific evidence should count as proof in courts? Do neuroscientists have a duty to data sharing? Is there any moral difference between natural and Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

These are just a few examples of ethical questions raised by advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology in our modern society.


This Spring semester’s Contemporary Debates Seminar brings together a series of lectures that will explore and examine a broad range of current ethical issues and challenges posed by advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology.

The seminar will provide both theoretical perspectives and practical approaches with the aim of delineating the current neuroethical landscape. There will be eight presentations with a short class discussion following each one. The lectures will feature leading international experts in the field.

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