A series of events in which we invite speakers from different disciplines to discuss various ethical issues raised by recent developments in the cognitive sciences. 

What Can the Brain Tell Us about the Mind?

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Monday 20 January 2014, 6.30 – 8pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Ray Dolan, Mary Kinross Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London

Peter Hacker, Emeritus Research Fellow, St John’s College, University of Oxford

Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology, King’s College London

Chair: Tali Sharot, Faculty Member and Director of the Affective Brain Lab, Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, UCL and Forum for European Philosophy Fellow

In April, President Obama unveiled the ‘BRAIN’ Initiative—‘a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind’. What, if anything, can neuroscience teach us about the mind? Does understanding the biology of the brain help illuminate human emotions, social relationships, decision making, personality? This session brought together neuroscientists, sociologists, and philosophers to debate these questions.

Children’s Pathologies: How Do We Think about Children’s Mental Health?

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Tuesday 19 November 2013, 6.30 – 8pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE

Rachel Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University

Eileen Munro, Professor of Social Policy, LSE

Emily Simonoff, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, King’s College London

Chair: Eamon McCrory, Reader in Developmental Psychopathology, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL

The classification, identification, and treatment of mental illnesses in children raises particular challenges. For example, what are the appropriate criteria for diagnosing children with a mental disorder? How can we avoid the risk of stigmatisation that some children and their families experience? What are the risks of not identifying mental illness in children and how does it impact on their wellbeing, self-esteem, academic attainment, and social development? Is it true that there is an increased tendency towards medicalizing certain behaviours that might once have been seen as normal (if challenging)? To what extent is it possible to predict which children will experience deficits in physical, psychological, and social development due to problematic parenting, and what are the implications for public policy decision making?

Privacy and Respect for Persons

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Wednesday 13 November 2013, 6.30 – 8pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE

Roger Brownsword, Professor of Law, King’s College London

Sarah Edwards, Senior Lecturer in Research Ethics and Governance, Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health, University College London

Sarah Richmond, Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University College London

Chair: Bahador Bahrami, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL

The continuing development of brain imaging technologies is now bringing into reach the correlation of brain activity with psychological states and traits, such as personality traits, mental health vulnerabilities, (unconscious) preferences and desires, or truthfulness. At the same time, different groups, such as employers, advertisers, health insurers, and the government, all have strong interests in the knowledge offered by the neurosciences. How concerned should we be about these developments, and how can we ensure the protection of our privacy and dignity?