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Free Will and Autonomy in the Age of Neurotechnologies

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Part of the Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment book series (ETHICSSCI,volume 49)

Abstract

Neurotechnologies—neuroimaging, brain stimulation, neuroprosthetics, brain-computer interfaces, optogenetics—are fairly new, but they are likely to progress rapidly and become increasingly widespread. These technologies are being developed primarily for medical purposes; however, applications in other fields are already under way. Intervening in brain functioning can have major implications for our free will and our autonomy. However, the effects are not unequivocal. Some techniques and some of their uses may increase our freedom, while other techniques and other uses may limit it. In this chapter, I propose an operationalised definition of free will and autonomy that is functional for the following discussion. Second, I briefly present some neurotechnologies and their current and future uses. Finally, I focus on the ethical, social and individual welfare evaluation of some neurotechnologies and their possible uses with regard to free will and autonomy.

Keywords

  • Control
  • Neurostimulation
  • Optogenetics
  • Memory
  • Politics

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Lavazza, A. (2022). Free Will and Autonomy in the Age of Neurotechnologies. In: López-Silva, P., Valera, L. (eds) Protecting the Mind. Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment, vol 49. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94032-4_5

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