Neuroimaging: An Ethical Approach

Faculty Sponsor

Edward Upton


Christ College


Christ College

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


Due to the heavy momentum of neuroscience, a conversation must begin on the ethical issues found in neurotechnology, specifically neuroimaging. Brain imaging has been used to predict mental health, academic success, and even violent behavior. If neuroimaging can help predict these important current issues, should the technology be used to predict one’s future behavior? Would such intervention be an intrusion of one’s mind? Unregulated intrusion of one’s brain could easily violate one’s mind and even ultimately, one’s self. Failure to recognize the ethical implications of brain imaging will result in moral injustices. These injustices encompass violations of privacy and manipulation of the mind (such as neuroprofiling or neuromarketing). I will argue that neuroradiology must be heavily regulated when it finds a comfortable spot in the public domain because of its ability to infringe upon the “sanctity” of the mind. This “sanctity” stems from a sense of privacy of one’s mind; that the mind possesses an innate integrity that must not be violated. Thus, neuroradiology possesses a strong potential for vicious action and the principle of informed consent becomes indispensable. In this paper, I will give a brief historical context followed by the many potential uses of neuroradiology. I will use virtue ethics in order to examine the bioethics of neuroimaging and the societal vices that will also become commonplace if the science is not controlled. A virtue ethics approach reveals how one might encourage vicious action in an individual by habituating his or her primal appetites through neuroimaging.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Benjamin Hoemann is a junior biochemistry major from St. Louis, MO. His long term career goal is to become a physician at a teaching hospital. He became interested in neuroscience during his time in the freshman program and he has continued to pursue it as a possible specialty.

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