7.5 credits

Course, Master's level, 3FV381

Spring 2024 Spring 2024, Flexible, 50%, Distance learning, English

Spring 2024 Spring 2024, Flexible, 50%, Distance learning, English For exchange students

About the course

Different types of neuroethical issues will be discussed during the course. The course focuses both on applied neuroethics, i.e. ethical questions that arise from neuroscientific or neurotechnological advances; and on fundamental neuroethics, i.e. questions concerning how knowledge of the brain's functional architecture and its evolution can deepen our understanding of human thought, including moral thought and judgment. The course also includes clinical perspectives, e.g. to what extent a patient with a neuro-degenerative disorder suffers from a reduced capacity for decision-making or reduced autonomy, or when a person with dementia can give informed consent to participate in scientific studies.

After the completed course, you are expected to be able to:

  • give an account of the relevance of neuroscience to understanding the development of moral judgment
  • critically analyse different neuroethical approaches to central philosophical problems, such as whether the human being can have free will or moral responsibility
  • give an account of some ethical problems that arise in connection with applications of neuroscientific or neurotechnological advances, e.g. new techniques to measure brain activities, new methods for cognitive enhancement, or new drug uses in psychopharmacology
  • give an account of ethical problems that arise in clinical contexts, such as how to assess autonomy or decision capacity in patients with neurodegenerative disorders
  • write an independent essay in which a coherent and constructive - i.e. not merely descriptive - argumentation is presented concerning some freely chosen neuroethical question.

Lectures feature prominent researchers in neuroscience and philosophy:

  • Jean-Pierre Changeux: "Neuroscience of the arts"
  • Stanislas Dehaene: "Human brain mechanisms of subliminal processing and conscious access"
  • Etienne Koechlin: "Decision-making, executive control and the prefrontal cortex"
  • Hugo Lagercrantz: "The making of the new-born brain: genetic, epigenetic and environmental mechanisms"
  • Patricia Kuhl: "The Dawn of the Enlightened Brain - the scientist in the crib"
  • Kathinka Evers: "Neuroethics"; "The neural basis of morality"; and "Free will and personal responsibility in the wake of neuroscience"
  • Kai Kaila: "In Search for consciousness"
  • Dan Larhammar: "The neural basis of religious experience"
  • Maria Lindau: "Neuropsychological assessment of dementia"

Outline for distance course: Web-based course with no on-campus or digital meetings. The course consists of recorded web lectures that are available throughout the course. To view the lectures, a computer with an internet connection is required. Contact with teachers and fellow students is mainly done through forums on the course web page. The examination consists of a short essay on the subject of neuroethics. To participate in the course you will need a computer with internet, web camera and headset.