Ethical issues in Educational Neuroscience: Raising children in a Brave New World

Zachary Stein, Bruno Della Chiesa, Christina Hinton and Kurt W. Fischer

in Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199570706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Ethical issues in Educational Neuroscience: Raising children in a Brave New World

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology



A growing international movement, called educational neuroscience, aims to inform educational research, policy, and practice with neuroscience and cognitive science research. The research brings a powerful capability to directly intervene in children's biological makeup, stirring ethical questions about the very nature of child rearing, and the role of education in this process. This study argues that designing children is ethically unacceptable and presents a few case studies to highlight important ethical issues. This article focuses on a central issue—the distinction between two general types of educational interventions informed by neuroscience, designing children versus raising children. These scenarios envision educational reforms that might follow in the wake of advances in understanding the biological bases of ethical behaviors. It hopes to provoke others to consider emerging ethical issues in mind, brain, and education, and to take preemptive action to protect children's right to participate in their own development.

Keywords: educational neuroscience; cognitive science research; ethical issues; raising children; designing children

Article.  10319 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Clinical Psychology

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