Commentary: How does neuroethics translate into
neurophilosophy? And where does chiropractic philosophy fit in?
Virgil Seutter, D.C., editor, ChiroZine.
Neuroscience has made remarkable advances in recent months. The
Human Genome Project and the advances in stem cell research have created
questions in the realm of neuroethics distinctly different from bioethics;
the former challenging the autonomy of mind/body relationships and basic
freedoms of choice in destiny as confrontational to causal determinism whereas
the latter is content to moralize on the appropriateness of intervention,
but without the proprietary obligations of mind/body relationships in which
causal determinism is viewed as an arbitrary ethic reserved to reducible
The idea that any discussion on
Ethics of Neuroscience cannot avoid examination of
Neuroscience of Ethics as a feedback loop of interactions in mind/body
relationships is interesting. The possibility that the body feeds the mind
and, conversely, that the mind feeds the body presents irreconcilable challenges
to the field of ethics and to our idea of consciousness and who we are.
conferences (1) to create dialogue and
field of neuroethics (2) is emerging in the science community; it is,
in essence, the beginnings of a developing neurophilosophy.
Confusing the science community, however, is the appearance of
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) on the scene. Science has been
slow in recognizing that health care based upon CAM principles have been
developed over a period of time through observation; that CAM views its protocol
as 'evidence-based' through cultural reinforcement of observational data.
It is consciousness fortified as empirical (ethics of neuroscience) reserving
examination to disciplined models of care (neuroscience of ethics) as in
acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, etc. The possibility of "Mapping Acupuncture
onto Western Neuroscience" is not without consideration if one considers
that acupuncture had developed within the ethics of prehistory; that the
problem could be in "the way we view physical contact systems of health care
such as acupuncture, chiropractic, or massage. These disciplines try to protect
their autonomy as cultural systems of healing by defying reductionist inquiry,
by encouraging instead a holistic viewpoint..." (3) In a sense, CAM was 'before
its time,' that consciousness was the only observable evidence to an inquiring
mind that considered the whole more important than the bits and pieces. The
ethics of conscience was probably more accurate in developing a cultural
fortification of the ritual protocol.
While neuroscience is attempting to develop a philosophy to guide
itself in the cultural implementations as ethical guidelines, the chiropractor
has all along attempted to follow guidelines that could not be examined with
rigor beyond the intellectual examination of its protocol. It would appear,
now, that neuroscience must follow the same tactic to map its future course.
Virgil Seutter, D.C.
25 Aug 2002
Neuroethics for the new
millenium by Adina Roskies, Neuron (bmn; 25 aug
MAPPING THE FIELD May 13-14, 2002 The Self-Made
Brain Neuroscience in 2025 Jacob Waldbauer, in collaboration with
Michael Gazzaniga, Ph. (scbe.stanford.edu;pdf; fnd 25 aug 2002)
Plastic Brains, Impressionable Minds
The first rule, Chalupa said, is to do no harm. That means protecting children
from environmental toxins such as mercury that can inflict permanent neurological
damage, as well as ensuring mothers receive necessary prenatal care and infants
get adequate nutrition. The second rule is to correct sensory impairments
as soon as possible after they are detected. Clinical evidence has suggested
and numerous animal studies have confirmed that sensory input is essential
for the proper development of cortical areas which process sensory information.
Deprivation of sensory signals to those areas during critical phases of
development phases that can be as short as a few days or even hours
can result in long-term impairment.
The New Human Nature The most broadly philosophical talk at the London
conference was given by Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology in the Department
of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Pinkers topic was the perennial
bugbear of the philosophically-inclined neuroscientist, human nature. He
believed that neuroscience and the other sciences of mind (cognitive science,
evolutionary psychology, and behavioral genetics) are fundamentally altering
our conception of what it means to be human, and that the challenges to
conventional views of human nature will only become more upsetting and demanding
of confrontation. Pinker cast the central results from these disciplines
that the mind is the product of a structured biological organ -- against
three secular doctrines of human nature that have gained prominence since
the Renaissance. These doctrines are the tabula rasa or blank slate commonly
associated with John Locke, the notion of the noble savage attributed to
Rousseau, and the mind-body dualism central to Descartes
3. Seutter Virgil. Letter to the Editor: "Mapping Acupuncture Onto
Longhurst John C.
Ancient Art of Acupuncture Meets Modern Cardiology" Mapping Acupuncture
onto Western Neuroscience. Cerebrum. 2002; 3:4; 48-59.
MRI Studies Provide New Insight Into How Emotions
Interfere With Staying Focused
(sciencedaily; Duke University; fnd 25 aug 2002)