On Friday, Dec. 1, 2006 the IEET and IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics - the bioethics liaison office of the International Humanist and Ethical Union - co-sponsored a panel discussion on “Cognitive Liberty in an Age of Neurotechnology” across the street from the United Nations. About one hundred people attended, from as far away as Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and the event was very successful.
The three speakers were:
IEET Executive Director James Hughes Ph.D. (who also moderated), who spoke on the technoprogressive understanding of cognitive liberty, and the ways that emerging neurotechnologies may further challenge cognitive liberties. [LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD MP3] [SLIDES]
Elizabeth Phelps Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, who showed some of the work on fMRI brainscanning of learning, memory and decision making being done at her Phelps Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience. Dr. Phelps argued that much of the anxieties about threats to cognitive liberty are overblown since the science is being hyped, and nowhere near providing the kind of intimate “brain-reading” that the media sometimes suggests. [LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD MP3]
Bradley Lewis MD, PhD was the third speaker. He read a redacted and fascinating version of his paper “Prozac and the Post-human Politics of Cyborgs” which raises questions about whether SSRIs are as effective as we think they are, why people want to take them, and how it all relates to Harawayan cyborgology. Dr. Lewis teaches cultural studies at the Gallatin School at New York University, with affiliated appointments in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and the Department of Psychiatry. He is the author of numerous articles published in academic journals, is the cultural studies editor for The Journal of Medical Humanities, and author of Postpsychiatry: Theorizing Psychiatry, Prozac, and DSM. [LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD MP3]
Thanks to Drs. Phelps and Lewis for great talks and give-and-take afterwards, and to Ana Lita of the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics for helping to organize this great event.
The IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics focuses on raising awareness of bioethical issues confronting the international community and promotes a human-centered approach, developing and implementing an international program for lobbying. The Center is a new initiative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the international umbrella organization for humanist, ethical culture, rationalist, secularist and free-thought groups. IHEU holds a special consultative status with the United Nations, a general consultative status with UNICEF and the Council of Europe as well as operational relations with UNESCO in Paris.