Neuroexceptionalism: Framing an Emergent Debate
19 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 23, 2021
In the past few decades, there have been significant advances in the sciences concerned with the brain and its functions. As science has advanced, the scientific and practical utility of neurodata – data concerning the nervous system’s nature, structure and function – has also grown. This expansion in utility, however, has brought with it ever increasing ethical and legal scrutiny on the legitimate use of neurodata. There is every reason to believe that the expansion in the scientific and practical utility of neurodata, as well as the increased attention given to attendant ethical and legal concerns, will continue apace. It seems likely that many of the forthcoming legal discussions will concern questions as to whether the collection and use of neurodata should be subject to specific and novel legal, ethical considerations: questions of neuroexceptionalism. In order for such discussions to take place in a structured and logical manner, a framework, in the form of an elaborated set of boundary conditions, for what constitutes a legitimate neuroexceptionalist position, is necessary. Unfortunately, no such framework has hitherto been elaborated. This paper attempts to fill this gap by elaborating such a framework in the form of relevant boundary conditions in relation to: i) the conditions under which neurodata might be considered exceptional; and ii) the conditions under which specific, novel, legal rules are required in response.
Keywords: neurodata, exceptionalism, law, ethics, fMRI
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