Intervention in the Brain
New findings in neuroscience have given us unprecedented knowledge about the workings of the brain. Innovative research—much of it based on neuroimaging results—suggests not only treatments for neural disorders but also the possibility of increasingly precise and effective ways to predict, modify, and control behavior. In this book, Robert Blank examines the complex ethical and policy issues raised by our new capabilities of intervention in the brain.
After surveying current knowledge about the brain and describing a wide range of experimental and clinical interventions—from behavior-modifying drugs to neural implants to virtual reality—Blank discusses the political and philosophical implications of these scientific advances. If human individuality is simply a product of a network of manipulable nerve cell connections, and if aggressive behavior is a treatable biochemical condition, what happens to our conceptions of individual responsibility, autonomy, and free will? In light of new neuroscientific possibilities, Blank considers such topics as informed consent, addiction, criminal justice, racism, commercial and military applications of neuroscience research, new ways to define death, and political ideology and partisanship.
Our political and social institutions have not kept pace with the rapid advances in neuroscience. This book shows why the political issues surrounding the application of this new research should be debated before interventions in the brain become routine.