Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 73–89 | Cite as

Deliver us from evil? The temptation, realities, and neuroethico-legal issues of employing assessment neurotechnologies in public safety initiatives

  • James Giordano
  • Anvita Kulkarni
  • James Farwell


In light of the recent events of terrorism and publicized cases of mass slayings and serial killings, there have been calls from the public and policy-makers alike for neuroscience and neurotechnology (neuroS/T) to be employed to intervene in ways that define and assess, if not prevent, such wanton acts of aggression and violence. Ongoing advancements in assessment neuroS/T have enabled heretofore unparalleled capabilities to evaluate the structure and function of the brain, yet each and all are constrained by certain technical and practical limitations. In this paper, we present an overview of the capabilities and constraints of current assessment neuroS/T, address neuro-ethical and legal issues fostered by the use and potential misuse of these approaches, and discuss how neuroethics may inform science and the law to guide right and sound applications of neuroS/T to “deliver us from evil” while not being led into temptations of ampliative claims and inapt use.


Neurotechnology Neuroethics Law Public safety Policy Neuroimaging Neurogenetics 



This work was supported in part by The William H. and Ruth Crane Schaefer Endowment, J.W. Fulbright Foundation, Clark Foundation Faculty Fellowship, and the Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and Division of Integrative Physiology and Graduate Liberal Studies Program of Georgetown University. The authors thank Danielle DeBacker for contributions to an initial version of this work, and are grateful to Sherry Loveless for assistance in preparing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Giordano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anvita Kulkarni
    • 3
  • James Farwell
    • 4
  1. 1.Neuroethics Studies Program, Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and Division of Integrative PhysiologyGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Human Science CenterLudwig-Maximilians UniversitätMunichGermany
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global AffairsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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