Article

The Rise of Neuroessentialism

Peter B. Reiner

in Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199570706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199570706.013.0049

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Rise of Neuroessentialism

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This article reviews the scientific advances and cultural trends that have resulted in the rise of neuroessentialism. It provides a portrait of the varieties of neuroessentialist thoughts that draw on the current understanding of brain function, and then uses these insights to see how neuroessentialist thinking might alter the mores of society. It argues that there are domains of modern life in which neuroessentialist thinking supports the development of policies that can be viewed as progressive and prosocial, supporting the objective of aligning innovations in the neurosciences with societal and individual values. It highlights instances in which neuroessentialist thinking may have nuanced but important unintended consequences, and that proponents of this worldview should thoroughly consider the ramifications of neuroessentialist thought becoming a cultural meme. The rise of neuroessentialism provides a framework for examining not only the range of neuroessentialist thinking that appears to be emerging but also provides some guidance as to the impact that such a shift in public perception may have on society at large.

Keywords: neuroessentialism; brain function; prosocial; individual values; scientific advances

Article.  6712 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Clinical Psychology

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