Stimulating the Brain : Ethical Perspectives on Deep Brain Stimulation & Nano Scaled Brain Machine Interfaces

Sammanfattning: This thesis addresses some of the ethical concerns raised by connecting man and machine through so called Brain-Machine Interfaces, BMIs, elaborate brain implants that may both further our knowledge of the brain and alleviate neurological dysfunction and impairments. The primary foci have been to address urgent and prominent concerns elicited by BMIs; to critically evaluate arguments relevant to an ethical analysis of Deep Brain Stimulation, DBS; and to address and develop ignored or underrepresented perspectives of importance in an ethical analysis of DBS. The main method used in the analysis is ‘embedded ethics’. This method was developed during the doctoral project, to answer the specific research questions examined in paper I-IV, and builds on methodology such as empirical ethics and casuistry. The purpose of ‘embedded ethics’ is not to derive final conclusions or action guidance regarding a technology as such, but to identify, critically assess and problematize central ethical concerns elicited by new and emerging technologies, and to detect and address the lacunas in the current debate. Some key contributions of this thesis to the fields of nanoethics, neuroethics and bioethics are: to introduce the distinction between inherent and noninherent ethical concerns to elaborate on upcoming and future ethical concerns elicited by DBS; to identify biases, for instance as regards technology, time, speculative scenarios, and authenticity, that may distort an ethical analysis of DBS; to argue for the duty of ethicists analysing bioethical concerns to acknowledge the necessity of acquiring sufficient knowledge of the scientific/biological subject matter of analysis, knowledge either achievable by being an ‘embedded ethicist’ or through a firm dedication to understanding the particulars and contextual impact factors specific to the subject of analysis.