Neuroethics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 173–185 | Cite as

Deep Brain Stimulation, Historicism, and Moral Responsibility

Original Paper

Abstract

Although philosophers have explored several connections between neuroscience and moral responsibility, the issue of how real-world neurological modifications, such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), impact moral responsibility has received little attention. In this article, we draw on debates about the relevance of history and manipulation to moral responsibility to argue that certain kinds of neurological modification can diminish the responsibility of the agents so modified. We argue for a historicist position - a version of the history-sensitive reflection view - and defend that account against a rival, relational view of responsibility. We conclude that DBS can, under certain conditions, diminish responsibility, and explore the circumstances under which this might be so. We conclude by suggesting that philosophical debates about moral responsibility, manipulation, and history have greater practical relevance than is sometimes thought, and that attention to practical cases can help inform and deepen this body of scholarship.

Keywords

Deep brain stimulation Moral responsibility Historicism Manipulation argument Compatibilism Neuroethics 

References

  1. 1.
    Libet, B. 2001. Consciousness, free action and the brain. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8(8): 59–65.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wegner, D. 2002. The illusion of conscious will. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wasserman, D., and J. Johnston. 2014. Seeing responsibility: can neuroimaging teach us anything about moral and legal responsibility? Hastings Center Report 44(2): S2–S7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Farah, Martha.J., and P.R. Wolpe. 2004. Monitoring and manipulating brain function: new neuroscience technologies and their ethical implications. Hastings Center Report 34(3): 35–45.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Appleby, Brian.S., Patrick.S. Duggan, Alan. Regenberg, and Peter V. Rabins. 2007. Psychiatric and neuropsychiatric adverse events associated with deep brain stimulation: a Meta-analysis of ten years’ experience. Movement disorders. Movement Disorders 22(12): 1722–1728.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    McKenna, M. 2013. Responsibility and globally manipulated agents. In The Philosophy of Free Will: Essential Readings from the Contemporary Debates, eds. P. Russell, and O. Deery, 342–359. Oxford: Oxford UP.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Johansson, V., M. Garwicz, M. Kanje, L. Halldenius, and J. Schouenborg. 2014. Thinking ahead on deep brain stimulation: an analysis of the ethical implications of a developing technology. American Journal of Bioethics – Neuroscience 5(1): 24–33.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shaw, E. 2014. Direct brain interventions and responsibility enhancement. Criminal Law and Philosophy 8(1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Strawson, P. 2008. Freedom and resentment and other essays. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fischer, J.M., and M. Ravizza. 1998. Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Coates, D.J., and P. Swenson. 2013. Reasons-responsiveness and degrees of responsibility. Philosophical Studies 165: 629–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vincent, N. 2013. Enhancing responsibility. In Neuroscience and legal responsibility, ed. N.A. Vincent, 305–334. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Perlmutter, J.S., and J.W. Mink. 2006. Deep brain stimulation. Annual Review of Neuroscience 29: 229–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pereira, A. 2007. Deep brain stimulation: indications and evidence. Expert Review of Medical Devices 4(5): 591–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Temel, Y. 2006. Behavioural changes after bilateral subthalamic stimulation in advanced Parkinson disease: a systematic review. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders 12(5): 265–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tierney, T.S., T. Sankar, and A.M. Lozano. 2011. Deep brain stimulation: emerging indications. Progress in Brain Research 194: 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Klaming, L., and P. Haselager. 2013. Did my brain implant make me do it? Questions raised by DBS regarding psychological continuity, responsibility for action and mental competence. Neuroethics 6(3): 527–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Smeding, H. 2008. Neuropsychological effects of subthalamatic nucleus stimulation in Parkinson’s disease. doi:6/4/2014Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Frankfurt, H.G. 1971. Freedom of the will and the concept of a person. The Journal of Philosophy: 5–20.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kraemer, F. 2013. Me, myself and my brain implant: deep brain stimulation raises questions of personal authenticity and alienation. Neuroethics 6(3): 483–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gilbert, F. 2013. Deep brain stimulation for treatment resistant depression: postoperative feelings of self-estrangement, suicide attempt and impulsive–aggressive Behaviours. Neuroethics 6(3): 473–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Watson, G. 1987. Responsibility and the limits of evil: variations on a Strawsonian theme. In Responsibility, Character and Emotions: New Essays on Moral Psychology, ed. F. Schoeman, 256–286. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fischer, J.M., and N.A. Tognazzini. 2009. The truth about tracing. Noûs 43(3): 531–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bubltiz, J.C., and R. Merkel. 2009. Autonomy and authenticity of enhanced personality traits. Bioethics 23(6): 360–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bublitz, C., and Merkel R. 2013. Guilty minds in washed brains? Manipulation cases and the limits of neuroscientific excuses in liberal legal orders.In Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility, Ed. N.A. Vincent: 335–374; Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mele, A.R. 1995. Autonomous Agents: From Self Control to Autonomy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Christman, J. 2009. The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    ——— 2001. Liberalism, autonomy, and self-transformation. Social Theory and Practice 27(2): 185–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Haji, I. 2013. Historicism, non-historicism, or a mix. The Journal of Ethics 17: 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    King, M. 2015. Manipulation arguments and standing to blame. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9(1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Spiers, H.J., and D. Bendor. 2014. Enhance, delete, incept: manipulating hippocampus-dependent memories. Brain Research Bulletin 105: 2–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of BioethicsNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

Personalised recommendations