November 27, 2007

The neurometer

Neuroemeter - for measuring electrophysiology of cells

Looking at possible PhDs to undertake after I graduate, I have been confronted with an ethical hurdle as my interests sway towards the neurosciences. I have, as such, been compelled to write a new entry, with a new question (please note that this isn’t necessarily the same question that confronts me, although it may be one – indeed it is one for any academic to consider).

A scientist, Dr. Science, manages to construct the first reliable neurochip – that is an electronic device that includes neurons (the cells in you brain that, via many electrical impulses, receive, compute and send information to your muscles upon various external stimuli) as electronic components, among the standard known components (e.g. resistors, diodes etc.). This neurochip enables the processing of specific neuronal activity that correlates to thought, such that the electrical signals can be reprocessed and displayed by a computer.

To me, there appear three significant implications to this:

1) That the mechanisation of thought (and thus the mind) can be interwoven directly with the laws of physics such that, upon realising that we must all “be one” due to the nature of our origins and having no soul (i.e. that we are all a result of physical laws e.g. thermodynamic equilibria, the quantum mechanics of atomic bonding, the photoelectric effect of vision etc.), we live in harmony and peace.
2) We realise that there are no consequences for what appears to be our “self” and society becomes “all-for-all”, resulting in the demise and probably extinction of the human race.
3) We don’t care what the philosophical implications are but we exploit the new technology as a means to socio-economic superiority.

Now, Dr. Science developed this device not to earn money for himself by selling them to those rich enough to afford them, not even for it to be applied to therapeutic treatments of ill patients, but to aid the realisation of implication 1) – i.e. harmony and peace.
However, despite his hopes, reasonable or delusional, implications 2) and 3) follow from the release of this product into the public domain.

The question is: were Dr. Science’s actions ethical or unethical?

I suppose the bulk of this question lies in a simpler, more general question: are ethics grounded in intention or consequence?

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Matthew Broome

    Interesting. Of course the definition of ethical behavior is a subjective one, but for the purpose of this question I shall assume you mean to act ethical is to act in the will of the masses. In which case I can only be drawn to the conclusion that ethics are grounded in intention. The notion of basing ones behavior on knowledge of the future, i.e. consequence, makes perfect sense if there has, in the past, been experience of a similar event to which you propose to repeat. However, in the case stated above it is obvious that Dr. Science has no knowledge of what the future will hold for him/her.

    I suppose what I want to say is, if intentions are ‘ethical’ from the outset based upon knowledge of the society in we live, then indeed these intentions can be nothing but ethical.

    But are morals/ethics innate? Are we born with an instinct for right and wrong? If so, the ideas of ethics may be actually hardwired in to our genetic structure. Who knows, we had best ask Dr. Science.


    29 Nov 2007, 01:12

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

November 2007

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Oct |  Today  | Dec
         1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30      

Search this blog


Most recent comments

  • Interesting. Of course the definition of ethical behavior is a subjective one, but for the purpose o… by Matthew Broome on this entry
  • Ism's. They seem to be a logical explanation, although they being a theory and polythemed. Hypnotism… by on this entry
  • Thanks for your input. I hadb't really thought of it like that before, but it still leaves me with a… by on this entry
  • You make the assumption that an animal eating another animal is being sinful, which it isn't. I stan… by on this entry
  • Haha, well yeh, it is kinda like that, but I'm not saying force them to do that with whips hot iron … by on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder