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"Ethical Burden of Human Understanding: Implications for Cognitive Neuroscience"

Friday 4 April 2014
1–3:30 PM
Reception to Follow
Wilson 214 - Danforth Campus
Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program

SPEAKERS Daniel Povinelli, University of Louisiana
Scott Frey, University of Missouri
MODERATOR Carl Craver, Washington University in St. Louis

In the last two decades, research on the cognitive capacities of humans and great apes has given us insight into the uniqueness of the human mind. One of the capacities that sets us apart from our nearest evolutionary relatives is our ability to seek and construct explanations. It is precisely this explanatory capacity that enables us to understand vastly complex systems such as the human brain. This understanding has in turn opened the door to a world that we have little experience navigating. One in which brain scans blur the distinction between public and private thoughts and neural stimulations enable the creation of memories that are not our own. As our ability to understand and intervene on the brain increases, it is crucial that we turn our powers of inquisitiveness to the question of how best to navigate this unfamiliar world. What are the social implications of cognitive technologies such as neuroimaging and optogenetics? How should cognitive research proceed in a way that respects the values of privacy and autonomy? The purpose of this symposium is to address these questions with the aim of increasing scientific and public awareness of contemporary cognitive science’s impact on human life and how to wield our unique explanatory capacities with caution.

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