Ethical Issues in Educational Neuroscience

For a look at some of the ethical issues surrounding neuropharmacology, check out: “Ethical issues in Educational Neuroscience: Raising Children in a Brave New World” (Stein, Z., della Chiesa, B. Hinton, C., Fischer, K.W.). The thesis, as described by its authors, follows:

“We argue that there is a key distinction between raising children and designing children, and that the ethical application of neuroscience research to education critically depends upon ensuring that we are raising children. Designing children involves altering dispositions and behaviors by use of mainly physical means while adopting 3rd person perspectives and instrumental attitudes. Some current practices surrounding psychopharmacology in schools fit this description. Raising children, on the other hand, is a process in which dispositions and behaviors are altered mainly through the use of shared languages and values while adopting 1st and 2nd person perspectives and cooperative attitudes. We argue that designing children is ethically unacceptable, invoking Kant’s categorical imperative and human rights issues, and we present a few case studies to highlight important ethical issues. We hope to provoke others to consider emerging ethical issues in mind, brain, and education, and to take preemptive action to protect children’s right to participate in their own development.”


Stein, Z., della Chiesa, B. Hinton, C., Fischer, K.W. (forthcoming, 2010).  Ethical issues in Educational Neuroscience: Raising Children in a Brave New World. Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics. (Illes & Sahakian, eds.) Oxford University Press.

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