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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Kluge

Neuroethics, Naturalism, Normativity & AI Ethics

Updated: Nov 11, 2021



Starting with the neuroscientific turn in moral and social philosophy, I have argued that neurophilosophy can help us today recast the normative problems of a naturalist research program in ethical, legal, social, and political theories, particularly focusing on the problem of the relationship between the properly biological progress of our human species and the social and historical evolution of civilizations, societies, and social groups, highlighting the evolution and impact of new technologies.


From a purely naturalistic, physicalist standpoint, it seems that normativity would be inevitably undermined to the point of justifying eliminativism or dismissing any normative claims as ultimately reducible to descriptive premises or natural properties.


On the other hand, from an irreducible normative viewpoint, naturalism will always come under attack by dualist, deontological, or universalist models of moral reasoning, even without resorting to any essentialist, transcendental, or absolutist presuppositions. AI Ethics turns out to be, nowadays, one of the best ways to strike a balance between reductionist versions of naturalism and dogmatic models of normativism (including teleological, utilitarian, and deontological models of normative ethics).


In this sense, AI Ethics can be methodologically placed between Bioethics qua subfield of Applied Ethics and Neuroethics qua subfield of Neurophilosophy or the Philosophy of Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences. In effect, the development of new technologies applied to the study of the brain and nervous system was decisive for the consolidation of neuroscience, esp. after the development of neuroimaging (fMRI).


No one questions nowadays that neuroscience and neurotechnologies have decisively contributed to new findings of human evolution, both biological and social, and its related self-understanding of human nature and the ethical, normative challenges for its future in a complex, fast-changing world. Hence, Neuroethics allows for a normative-challenging, in-depth approach to AI research which can be broad enough to comprise both metaethical and normative-ethical lines of research, in dialogue with legal studies and philosophy of mind and language.


Major research projects within this research program:

  • Critical Theory, Normativity, and Justification: Reconstruction, Sociality, Reflexivity (PQ-CNPq, 2020-24);

  • Human formation: Knowledge and practices for a world in motion, in Cooperation with the University of Miami, Universität Bonn, and Université Paris 8 (CAPES-Print, 2019-23);

  • Biosafety, Public Health, and Social & Environmental Responsibility (PUCRS, 2017-2020);

  • Social Media and Decision-Making Processes: Reason and Emotion in Social Relations (Brazilian National Research Council – CNPq, MCT, The Brain Institute – Instituto do Cérebro, InsCer, 2012-19).



For more information, go to this link. Or contact professor Nythamar!

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