Henry T. Greely in a recent article Neuroethics: The Neuroscience Revolution, Ethics, and the Law paints a gloomy picture of our posthuman future. In this paper he breaks down the revolution in neuroethics into four domains: prediction, litigation, confidentiality and privacy, and patents. He tells us it is the responsibility of any ethicist to understand the ethical, legal, and social consequences of new technologies to look disproportionately for troublesome consequences. Neuroethics is specific to the new branches of neurosciences.
Ethical problems revolving around neuroscientific research have induced the emergence of a new discipline termed neuroethics, which discusses issues such as prediction of disease, psychopharmacological enhancement of attention, memory or mood, and technologies such as psychosurgery, deep-brain stimulation or brain implants. Such techniques are capable of affecting the individual’s sense of privacy, autonomy and identity. Moreover, reductionist interpretations of neuroscientific results challenge notions of free will, responsibility, personhood and the self which are essential for western culture and society. They may also gradually change psychiatric concepts of mental health and illness. These tendencies call for thorough, philosophically informed analyses of research findings and critical evaluation of their underlying conceptions of humans. The stakes are high, for it entails nothing less and nothing more that the core values that have guided since the Enlightenment.