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2.
Hist Philos Life Sci ; 43(1): 3, 2021 Jan 08.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33417016

RESUMO

Many governments have seen digital health technologies as promising tools to tackle the current COVID-19 pandemic. A much-talked example in this context involves the recent deluge of digital contact tracing apps (DCT) aimed at detecting Covid-19 exposure. In this short contribution we look at the bio-political justification of this phenomenon and reflect on whether DCT apps constitute, as it is often argued, a serious potential breach of our right to privacy. Despite praising efforts attempting to develop legal and ethical frameworks for DCT apps' usage; we argue that such endeavours are not sufficient to tackle the more fundamental problem of mass surveillance, which will remain largely unaddressed unless we deal with the biopolitical arguments presented and resort to a technical and structural defence.


Assuntos
/epidemiologia , Busca de Comunicante/ética , Liberdade , Pandemias/prevenção & controle , Filosofia , Privacidade , /prevenção & controle , Humanos
3.
Brain Res ; 1750: 147146, 2021 Jan 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33068633

RESUMO

Human cerebral organoids (HCOs) are an in vitro model of early neural development, aimed at modelling and understanding brain development and neurological disorders. In just a few years there has been rapid and considerable progress in the attempt to create a brain model capable of showcasing the characteristics of the human brain. There are still strong limitations to address, including the absence of vascularization which makes it difficult to feed the central layers of the organoid. Nevertheless, some important features of the nervous system have recently been observed in cerebral organoids: they manifest electrical activity (i.e. communication between neurons), are sensitive to light stimulation and are able to connect to a spinal cord by sending impulses that make a muscle contract. Recent data show that cortical organoid network development at ten months resembles some preterm babies EEG patterns. Although cerebral organoids are not close to human brains so far due to their extremely simplified structure, this state of things gives rise to ethical concerns about the creation and destructive experimental use of human cerebral organoids. Particularly, one can wonder whether a human cerebral organoid could develop some degree of consciousness and whether, under certain conditions, it could acquire its own moral status with the related rights. In this article, I discuss the conditions under which HCOs could be granted their own moral status. For this purpose, I consider the hypothesis that HCOs might develop a primitive form of consciousness and investigate the ways in which it could be detected. In light of all this, I finally point out some cautionary measures that could be introduced into research on and with human cerebral organoids.

4.
AJOB Neurosci ; 11(4): 292-294, 2020.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33196366
5.
Front Public Health ; 8: 563397, 2020.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33072701

RESUMO

We start (section The COVID-19 Pandemic and Italy's Response to It) by focusing on Italy's "tough" response to COVID-19 pandemic, which included total lockdown with very limited possibility of movement for over 60 million individuals. We analyse (section Sweden's Softer Approach) Sweden's softer approach, which is based on relatively lax measures and tends to safeguard fundamental constitutional rights. We problematise (section General Disagreement Among Experts: A Pressing Epistemic Problem) around the stalemate that arises as a consequence of the implementation of these different approaches, both epistemically grounded and equally justified, in the face of an unknown virus, in society. We point out that in some cases, like the one we discuss here, the epistemic justification that underlies scientific expertise is not enough to direct public debates and that politicians shouldn't exclusively focus on it. We claim that, especially in situations of emergency when experts disagree, decision makers ought to promote broad discussions, with attention to public reason as well as to constitutional rights, in the attempt to find a shared procedural and democratic agreement on how to act. On these grounds (section The Need of More Public Discourse in Fighting Covid-19) we call for an increase role of different types of expertise in public debates thus for the inclusion of ethicists, bioethicists, economists, psychologists, moral and legal philosophers in any scientific committee responsible for taking important decisions for public health, especially during situations like pandemics. Likewise, in the interest of public reason and representativeness, we also claim that it may be fruitful to bring in non-experts, or experts whose expertise is not based solely on "epistemic status," but rather on either experience or political advocacy, of either the homeless, the immigrant, or other disenfranchised groups. This, in expanding the epistemic-expert pool, may also make it "more representative of society as a whole."

6.
Monash Bioeth Rev ; 38(2): 105-128, 2020 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32895775

RESUMO

Human cerebral organoids (HCOs) are three-dimensional in vitro cell cultures that mimic the developmental process and organization of the developing human brain. In just a few years this technique has produced brain models that are already being used to study diseases of the nervous system and to test treatments and drugs. Currently, HCOs consist of tens of millions of cells and have a size of a few millimeters. The greatest limitation to further development is due to their lack of vascularization. However, recent research has shown that human cerebral organoids can manifest the same electrical activity and connections between brain neurons and EEG patterns as those recorded in preterm babies. All this suggests that, in the future, HCOs may manifest an ability to experience basic sensations such as pain, therefore manifesting sentience, or even rudimentary forms of consciousness. This calls for consideration of whether cerebral organoids should be given a moral status and what limitations should be introduced to regulate research. In this article I focus particularly on the study of the emergence and mechanisms of human consciousness, i.e. one of the most complex scientific problems there are, by means of experiments on HCOs. This type of experiment raises relevant ethical issues and, as I will argue, should probably not be considered morally acceptable.

7.
Front Public Health ; 8: 356, 2020.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32760690

RESUMO

In the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, medical experts (virologists, epidemiologists, public health scholars, and statisticians alike) have become instrumental in suggesting policies to counteract the spread of coronavirus. Given the dangerousness and the extent of the contagion, almost no one has questioned the suggestions that these experts have advised policymakers to implement. Quite often the latter explicitly sought experts' advice and justified unpopular measures (e.g., restricting people's freedom of movement) by referring to the epistemic authority attributed to experts. The main goal of this paper is to analyze the basis of this epistemic authority and the reasons why in this case it has not been challenged, contrary to the widespread tendency to devalue expertise that has been observed in recent years. In addition, in relation to the fact that experts' recommendations are generally technical and supposedly neutral, we note that in the COVID-19 crisis different experts have suggested different public health policies. We consider the British case of herd immunity and the US case of the exclusion of disabled people from medical care. These decisions have strong axiological implications and affect people profoundly in very sensitive domains. Another goal is, therefore, to argue that in such cases experts should justify their recommendations-which effectively become obligations-by the canons of public reason within the political process because when values are involved it is no longer just a matter of finding the "best technical solution," but also of making discretionary choices that affect citizens and that cannot be imposed solely on the basis of epistemic authority.

8.
Med Health Care Philos ; 23(3): 421-432, 2020 Sep.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32447568

RESUMO

Can transfusions of blood plasma slow down ageing or even rejuvenate people? Recent preclinical studies and experimental tests inspired by the technique known as parabiosis have aroused great media attention, although for now there is no clear evidence of their effectiveness. This line of research and the interest it is triggering testify to the prominent role played by the idea of combating the "natural" ageing process in the scientific and social agenda. While seeking to increase the duration of healthy living time may be considered a duty, it also raises ethical questions about how to pursue this goal. Specifically, therapies and techniques accessible only to a fraction of the population seem destined to exponentially increase social inequality and to produce undesirable consequences. In this article we address the issue precisely in the light of the prospected use of plasma for the rejuvenation of a small elite of people.

9.
Camb Q Healthc Ethics ; 28(4): 708-724, 2019 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31526431

RESUMO

The microbiome is proving to be increasingly important for human brain functioning. A series of recent studies have shown that the microbiome influences the central nervous system in various ways, and consequently acts on the psychological well-being of the individual by mediating, among others, the reactions of stress and anxiety. From a specifically neuroethical point of view, according to some scholars, the particular composition of the microbiome-qua microbial community-can have consequences on the traditional idea of human individuality. Another neuroethical aspect concerns the reception of this new knowledge in relation to clinical applications. In fact, attention to the balance of the microbiome-which includes eating behavior, the use of psychobiotics and, in the treatment of certain diseases, the use of fecal microbiota transplantation-may be limited or even prevented by a biased negative attitude. This attitude derives from a prejudice related to everything that has to do with the organic processing of food and, in general, with the human stomach and intestine: the latter have traditionally been regarded as low, dirty, contaminated and opposed to what belongs to the mind and the brain. This biased attitude can lead one to fail to adequately consider the new anthropological conceptions related to the microbiome, resulting in a state of health, both physical and psychological, inferior to what one might have by paying the right attention to the knowledge available today. Shifting from the ubiquitous high-low metaphor (which is synonymous with superior-inferior) to an inside-outside metaphor can thus be a neuroethical strategy to achieve a new and unbiased reception of the discoveries related to the microbiome.


Assuntos
Comportamento/fisiologia , Encéfalo , Microbiota , Transplante de Microbiota Fecal , Humanos , Metáfora
13.
Front Psychol ; 10: 326, 2019.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30863339

RESUMO

Is epiphenomenalism virtually entailed by the current empirical knowledge about how the mind/brain causes human behavior? I'll address this question by highlighting that recent discoveries in empirical psychology and neuroscience actually do not strike the final blow to the notions of free will and intentional agency. Indeed, most of the experiments that purport to show that our behavior is unconscious and automatic do not prove that it is indeed the case and that therefore we do not have free will. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that those experiments focus on a specific range of our behavior, one that manifests a significant correlation between unconscious priming and decisions or reactions. However, this doesn't mean that the entire range of our relevant behavior works the same way. It can be argued that there are situations of higher relevance in which we are fully conscious of our decisions or, at least, there are decisions such that psychological experiments cannot prove them to always be unconscious and automatic. However, the epiphenomenalist challenge may suggest that we should abandon some of the suppositions implied by a traditional idea of free will.

14.
Bioethics ; 33(1): 122-131, 2019 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30157289

RESUMO

Non-invasive brain stimulation is used to modulate brain excitation and inhibition and to improve cognitive functioning. The effectiveness of the enhancement due to transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is still controversial, but the technique seems to have large potential for improvement and more specific applications. In particular, it has recently been used by athletes, both beginners and professionals. This paper analyses the ethical issues related to tDCS enhancement, which depend on its specific features: ease of use, immediate effect, non-detectability and great variability of effects. If tDCS were to become widespread, there could be some potential side effects, especially the rise of inequality in many selective competitive contexts. I discuss two possible scenarios to counter this effect: that of prohibition and that of compensation, each supported by reasons and arguments that seem plausible and worthy of consideration. In conclusion, I show why I think the scenario of compensation is the preferable one.


Assuntos
Desempenho Atlético/ética , Melhoramento Biomédico/ética , Encéfalo , Cognição , Justiça Social , Esportes/ética , Estimulação Transcraniana por Corrente Contínua/ética , Atletas , Compensação e Reparação , Comportamento Competitivo/ética , Humanos , Controle Social Formal , Fatores Socioeconômicos
15.
J Med Ethics ; 45(2): 144-145, 2019 02.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30580320

RESUMO

In terms of ethical implications, Boers, van Delden and Bredenoord (2018) have made an interesting step forward with their model of organoids as hybrids, which seeks to find a balance between subject-like value and object-like value. Their framework aims to introduce effective procedures not to exploit donors and to increase their engagement, but it does not seem to take sufficient account of how organoids are used and how donors and society as a whole may want to act about such uses. I will concentrate my remarks on three points that I consider relevant. The first comment concerns the so-called mini-brains. The second one is related to the issue of consent and long-term 'control' over the organic material granted by donors. The last comment focuses on 'genetic minorities'.


Assuntos
Obtenção de Tecidos e Órgãos , Humanos , Princípios Morais , Organoides , Doadores de Tecidos
17.
Front Psychol ; 9: 469, 2018.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29674992

RESUMO

Autobiographical memory is fundamental to the process of self-construction. Therefore, the possibility of modifying autobiographical memories, in particular with memory-modulation and memory-erasing, is a very important topic both from the theoretical and from the practical point of view. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the state of the art of some of the most promising areas of memory-modulation and memory-erasing, considering how they can affect the self and the overall balance of the "self and autobiographical memory" system. Indeed, different conceptualizations of the self and of personal identity in relation to autobiographical memory are what makes memory-modulation and memory-erasing more or less desirable. Because of the current limitations (both practical and ethical) to interventions on memory, I can only sketch some hypotheses. However, it can be argued that the choice to mitigate painful memories (or edit memories for other reasons) is somehow problematic, from an ethical point of view, according to some of the theories of the self and personal identity in relation to autobiographical memory, in particular for the so-called narrative theories of personal identity, chosen here as the main case of study. Other conceptualizations of the "self and autobiographical memory" system, namely the constructivist theories, do not have this sort of critical concerns. However, many theories rely on normative (and not empirical) conceptions of the self: for them, the actions aimed at mitigating or removing specific (negative) memories can be seen either as an improvement or as a depletion or impairment of the self.

18.
J Med Ethics ; 44(9): 606-610, 2018 09.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29491041

RESUMO

Organoids are three-dimensional biological structures grown in vitro from different kinds of stem cells that self-organise mimicking real organs with organ-specific cell types. Recently, researchers have managed to produce human organoids which have structural and functional properties very similar to those of different organs, such as the retina, the intestines, the kidneys, the pancreas, the liver and the inner ear. Organoids are considered a great resource for biomedical research, as they allow for a detailed study of the development and pathologies of human cells; they also make it possible to test new molecules on human tissue. Furthermore, organoids have helped research take a step forward in the field of personalised medicine and transplants. However, some ethical issues have arisen concerning the origin of the cells that are used to produce organoids (ie, human embryos) and their properties. In particular, there are new, relevant and so-far overlooked ethical questions concerning cerebral organoids. Scientists have created so-called mini-brains as developed as a few-months-old fetus, albeit smaller and with many structural and functional differences. However, cerebral organoids exhibit neural connections and electrical activity, raising the question whether they are or (which is more likely) will one day be somewhat sentient. In principle, this can be measured with some techniques that are already available (the Perturbational Complexity Index, a metric that is directly inspired by the main postulate of the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness), which are used for brain-injured non-communicating patients. If brain organoids were to show a glimpse of sensibility, an ethical discussion on their use in clinical research and practice would be necessary.


Assuntos
Encéfalo/fisiologia , Ética em Pesquisa , Organoides/fisiologia , Células-Tronco/fisiologia , Estado de Consciência/fisiologia , Células-Tronco Fetais/fisiologia , Humanos
19.
Front Neurosci ; 12: 82, 2018.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29515355

RESUMO

There are many kinds of neural prostheses available or being researched today. In most cases they are intended to cure or improve the condition of patients affected by some cerebral deficiency. In other cases, their goal is to provide new means to maintain or improve an individual's normal performance. In all these circumstances, one of the possible risks is that of violating the privacy of brain contents (which partly coincide with mental contents) or of depriving individuals of full control over their thoughts (mental states), as the latter are at least partly detectable by new prosthetic technologies. Given the (ethical) premise that the absolute privacy and integrity of the most relevant part of one's brain data is (one of) the most valuable and inviolable human right(s), I argue that a (technical) principle should guide the design and regulation of new neural prostheses. The premise is justified by the fact that whatever the coercion, the threat or the violence undergone, the person can generally preserve a "private repository" of thought in which to defend her convictions and identity, her dignity, and autonomy. Without it, the person may end up in a state of complete subjection to other individuals. The following functional principle is that neural prostheses should be technically designed and built so as to prevent such outcomes. They should: (a) incorporate systems that can find and signal the unauthorized detection, alteration, and diffusion of brain data and brain functioning; (b) be able to stop any unauthorized detection, alteration, and diffusion of brain data. This should not only regard individual devices, but act as a general (technical) operating principle shared by all interconnected systems that deal with decoding brain activity and brain functioning.

20.
Front Hum Neurosci ; 11: 113, 2017.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28326031

RESUMO

There is evidence that noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS), and especially transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), can improve some cognitive functions, at least temporarily. However, as the improvement only applies to some "lucky" people, it may raise ethical, social and legal issues related to fairness in selective contexts (exams, competitions, job interviews). In this regard, an important element tends to be overlooked: the variability in individual response to tDCS in particular. If intensive study or practice and massive doses of chemical enhancers can have slightly different effects over different people, tDCS can sometimes be completely ineffective. The variability in individual response, if tDCS were widely used, could add to the already present natural inequalities between people, or even create new ones, leaving some in a disadvantaged condition. The discussion of the various ethical, social and legal consequences of different individual responses to tDCS might also address a potential indirect intervention by the State. In fact, if NIBS were to be widespread in competitive contexts, those who do not benefit from tDCS would be disadvantaged compared to those able to enhance their skills thanks to neuromodulation technologies. The most disadvantaged people for their lower response to tDCS could then acquire the right to receive and use free and safe cognitive enhancing drugs or other forms of bettering cognitive skills and functions, so as to reduce the gap between them and those who respond well to tDCS, in the light of the principle of equal opportunity.

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