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How to cite this article: Ramiro-H. M. Neuroethics. Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc. 2015 Jul-Aug;53(4):396-7.



Received: June 2nd 2015
Accepted: June 8th 2015


aManuel Ramiro-H.

aRevista Médica del Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Unidad de Educación, Investigación y Políticas de Salud, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Distrito Federal, México.

Communication with: Manuel Ramiro-H.

Neuroethics emerged as a discipline in 2012 after a World Congress organized by the Stanford University, the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and sponsored by the Dana Foundation. It has emerged with great force and an important interdisciplinary approach between science and philosophy. Its most relevant lines of action are the study of the ethical consequences of neuroscience research and clinical interventions; as well as the biological factors of human behavior or conduct.

Keywords: Ethics; Science; Research

Neuroethics is a new interconnected or intermediate discipline between science and philosophy that recalls the initial concept of philosophy as the study of the laws of nature. It is a recent discipline, having arisen with the current concept in 2002; before this date the concept of "neuroethics" was mentioned but in a sense more related to neurologists and other neuroscientists in ethics committees,1,2 in terms of the philosophical concern that the term already encloses or covers, which may be much earlier, but it may be Zubiri who most clearly begins to discuss them, much of whose work for various reasons has been published posthumously.3

In 2002, for different reasons, none very clear or fully determinative, a conference took place in San Francisco sponsored by Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco, and the Dana Foundation, entitled Neuroethics: Mapping the Fields. This is the starting point of Neuroethics; the fact that two such prestigious universities were involved, a foundation dedicated to the specific sponsorship of neuroscience, and speakers from different countries was crucial so that the results were well known, and was also the starting point for work in various parts of the world. As in all foundational congresses, it is arguable that it really was foundational; what is sure is that the San Francisco conference has the opportunity to focus various stakeholders who put forth the basics for the development of this new discipline.4 From this congress definitions are born that are turning into fields of work and research and also into positions that in some cases can develop into conflicting positions. The four blocks that emerged were:

  1. Neuroscience and the self.
  2. Social science and social policy.
  3. Ethics and the practice of neuroscience.
  4. Neuroscience and public discourse.

Adela Cortina, philosopher of Spanish origin, identifies two positions that have grown over the years: the Ethics of the exercise and neuroscience research, and Scientific knowledge of moral conduct, independence and the self.5 Surprisingly, the first line has been considered more scientific and the second as more philosophical. It would be desirable that both sides continue a rapid development, and hopefully it does not go the way of the concept of Bioethics, which began with an analysis of attitudes to the environment and its surroundings in general.6 Van Rensselaen Potter started developing this concept with his books,7,8 and only later a clinical trend emerged in bioethics, initiated by André Hellegers and Daniel Callahan, which ended up dominating the development of bioethics.

The outstanding Spanish author who ventures into different areas, some that seem far from philosophical such as companies and business,9,10 has published a book that brings not only her opinion on this but various positions that are growing the world over.11 There are many signs of the strength of the development of Neuroethics, but perhaps the most obvious are the emergence of specific centers for study and the founding of magazines just created for its diffusion. In 2007 the University of British Columbia Vancouver created the National Core for Neuroethics with a mission to study the ethical, legal, political and social implications of neuroscience research. At the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom is The Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics, with the aim of studying the effects that neuroscience and neurotechnologies will have on various aspects of human life. In 2012 the University of Valencia published a book that brings together different points of view about Neuroethics produced at the same university, though it also has contributions from other schools, including two Mexican authors.12,13 In 2008 Neuroethics magazine emerged, published by Springer Verlag under the editorship of Neil Levy, another great promoter and scholar of Neuroethics.

However, in terms of publications in Mexico there has not been great development in this regard; while there are various efforts carried out by authors in the country,14,15 we are sure that there ought to be many more.

In the medical journal of the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social we will be glad to be a vehicle for the dissemination of contributions on Neuroethics. As such, participating in the pursuit of the ethics of neuroscience practice, and research not only of functionality and neurological pathology, but about the possibility of knowing certain aspects of morality, its cerebral establishment, and its possible changes through time and the environment.

  1. Cranford RE, Van Allen EJ. The implications and applications of institutional ethics committees. Bull Am Coll Surg. 1985;70(6):19-24.
  2. Cranford RE, Roberts JC. Biomedical ethics committees. Prim Care. 1986;13(2):327-41.
  3. Zubiri X. Inteligencia y razón. Alianza. Madrid. 1983
  4. Cortina A. Neuroética y neuropolítica: sugerencias para la educación moral. Madrid, Tecnos, 2011.
  5. Cortina A, Neuroética: ¿Ética fundamental o ética aplicada? López Frías FJ, Morales Aguilera P, Sebastián Solanes RP, Gil Blasco M, Arteta Arilla M, Costa Alcaraz AM, et al. (ed) Bioética, neuroética, libertad y justicia Universitat de Valencia. Editorial Comares. 2012: 802-30.
  6. Potter VR. Bioethics for whom? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1972;196(4):200-5.
  7. Potter VR Bioethics: bridge to the future. Prentice Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs New Jersey. 1971.
  8. Potter VR. The science of the future. Bioethics: Bridge to the Future. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 1971.
  9. Cortina A. Por una ética del consumo. Madrid Taurus. 2002
  10. Cortina A. Ética de la empresa: claves para una nueva cultura empresarial, Madrid, Tecnos, 1994
  11. López Frías FJ, Morales Aguilera P, Sebastián Solanes RP, Gil Blasco M, Arteta Arilla M, Costa Alcaraz AM, et al. (ed) Bioética, neuroética, libertad y justicia Universitat de Valencia. Editorial Comares. 2012.
  12. Mayorga-Madrigal AC. Alcanzar acuerdos en la pluralidad. Un desafío para la bioética. En: López Frías FJ, Morales Aguilera P, Sebastián Solanes RP, Gil Blasco M, Arteta Arilla M, Costa Alcaraz AM, et al. (ed) Bioética, neuroética, libertad y justicia Universitat de Valencia. Editorial Comares. 2012:424-36.
  13. Patiño-González I. Justicia distributiva y trasplante órganos. En: López Frías FJ, Morales Aguilera P, Sebastián Solanes RP, Gil Blasco M, Arteta Arilla M, Costa Alcaraz AM, et al. (ed) Bioética, neuroética, libertad y justicia Universitat de Valencia. Editorial Comares. 2012:45|1-459.
  14. Mayorga-Madrigal C. Neuroética. Nuevas pistas para filosofar. La gaceta de la Universidad de Guadalajara. 27 de mayo 2013. Consultado 28 de mayo 2015.
  15. Ramos-Zuñiga R. Neuroethics are more than the bioethics of neuroscience. Surg Neurol Int 2015;12;6:24

Conflict of interest statement: The author has completed and submitted the form translated into Spanish for the declaration of potential conflicts of interest of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, and none were reported in relation to this article.

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