Neuroethics and the Ethical Parity Principle

Abstract

Neil Levy offers the most prominent moral principles that are specifically and exclusively designed to apply to neuroethics. His two closely related principles, labeled as versions of the ethical parity principle (EPP), are intended to resolve moral concerns about neurological modification and enhancement [1]. Though EPP is appealing and potentially illuminating, we reject the first version and substantially modify the second. Since his first principle, called EPP (strong), is dependent on the contention that the mind literally extends into external props such as paper notebooks and electronic devices, we begin with an examination of the extended mind hypothesis (EMH) and its use in Levy’s EPP (strong). We argue against reliance on EMH as support for EPP (strong). We turn to his second principle, EPP (weak), which is not dependent on EMH but is tied to the acceptable claim that the mind is embedded in, because dependent on, external props. As a result of our critique of EPP (weak), we develop a modified version of EPP (weak), which we argue is more acceptable than Levy’s principle. Finally, we evaluate the applicability of our version of EPP (weak).

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and helpful remarks on an earlier version of this paper.

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Correspondence to Joseph P. DeMarco.

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DeMarco, J.P., Ford, P.J. Neuroethics and the Ethical Parity Principle. Neuroethics 7, 317–325 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-014-9211-6

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Keywords

  • Neuroethics
  • Levy
  • Human enhancement
  • Bioethics
  • Extended mind