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Cultural threads in neuroethics exploration

2024-01-24

Science is not value neutral. Neuroethics is no different. There is a growing discussion about how culture influences neuroethical reflection. A recently published book titled Neuroethics and cultural diversity delves into the historical and conceptual aspects of neuroethics and how to expand it beyond the Western influence under which the discipline developed.

Culture is a complex and multifaceted concept and has a significant impact on all science, including neuroethics – affecting both its development as a scientific field and its role in society. The cultural impact on science and on the public perception of science is particularly relevant to neuroethics, as it aims to facilitate the creation of an interface between neuroscience and society at large. Addressing ethical, legal, social, cultural, philosophical, and scientific questions raised by neuroscience and its associated technologies.

Historically, neuroethics has its roots in specific cultural contexts, namely North America and Western Europe. This has significantly influenced its theoretical, methodological, and practical traditions. These traditions don’t always translate well to other cultural contexts. 

It is important to involve people from different cultures working together when dealing with issues related to neuroscience and emerging technologies. The authors of the book suggest that it's crucial for everyone to agree on what problems to focus on. By collaborating and finding common ground, it is possible to start making progress towards finding solutions that can be used in democratic decision-making.

Neuroethics and cultural diversity offers a broad overview of the current situation and conversation on the topic, but also promotes and stimulates further discussion – providing concrete examples to get people talking. 

"We wanted to deeply examine the history and concepts of neuroethics in relation to culture and cultural diversity. To share examples that will help advance and enrich ethical reflection by means of increasing cultural awareness. This is just the beginning of the exploration of the connection between cultural diversity and neuroethics,” says Michele Farisco, researcher at the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) at Uppsala University, editor and one of the authors of the book.

In addition to Michele Farisco editing the book, it also includes contributions by among others CRB's Kathinka Evers (Fundamental Neuroethics) and Amal Matar (How Do Arabic Cultural and Ethical Perspectives Engage with New Neuro-technologies? A Scoping Review). 

By Märta Karlén

Farisco, M. (2024). Neuroethics and cultural diversity. John Wiley & Sons.

Last modified: 2024-03-19