Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics


Anthropological Challenges Raised by Neuroscience: Some Ethical Reflections

a1 Université de Montréal

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doucet h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

The Nobel Laureate Illya Prigogine compares the recent breakthroughs in human biology to the major changes that occurred when the Neolithic period succeeded the Paleolithic, 12,000 years ago. Although there is disagreement about the meaning of these changes, most opposing views recognize that a “major transformation” took place. Some interpret the recent breakthroughs in neuroscience as the first step toward “our posthuman future” whereas others see the consequences of these achievements as the end of humankind. Genomics and neuroscience are the main fields that, at this point, give rise to such a debate, some authors stating that neuroscience raises even greater anthropological and ethical challenges than does genomics. This article focuses on neuroscience. Its main object is to critically assess these diverging opinions on the impact of neuroscience and to determine whether both sides are not telling us something important about ourselves and how neuroscience could enlighten healthcare ethics. a


a I acknowledge the help of Dr. Nancy Burbidge and Dr. Béatrice Godard in the preparation of this manuscript.