Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues in Social Neuroscience

Martha J. Farah

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues in Social Neuroscience

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology



This chapter reviews the neuroethical issues that are most closely related to social neuroscience. The next two sections address the issues that emerge from neuroscience-based technologies; in other words, relatively pragmatic issues concerning how the fruits of social neuroscience can and should be applied. These include ethical, legal, and social challenges raised by newfound abilities to image the brain and thereby obtain information about mental states and personal traits, as well as by our growing ability to intervene in individuals’ brain function to alter these states and traits. The final section addresses neuroethical issues that emerge from the impact of social neuroscience on our understanding of human beings. In this section it is the knowledge per se, not its technological applications, that is the focus of the review. This section includes the ways in which our evolving understanding of the human person challenges our long-held beliefs about morality and spirituality.

Keywords: social neuroscience; neuroethical issues; neuroscience-based technologies; human beings

Article.  6946 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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