1st Edition

The Ethics of Neuroscience and National Security

By Nicholas G. Evans Copyright 2021
    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    New advances in neuroscience promise innovations in national security, especially in the areas of law enforcement, intelligence collection, and armed conflict. But ethical questions emerge about how we can, and should, use these innovations. This book draws on the open literature to map the development of neuroscience, particularly through funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in certain areas like behavior prediction, behavior modification, and neuroenhancement, and its use in the creation of novel weapons. It shows how advances in neuroscience and new technologies raise ethical issues that challenge the norms of law enforcement, intelligence collection, and armed conflict, broadly grouped under the term "national security." Increasing technological sophistication without attention to ethics, this book argues, risks creating conditions for the development of "dual-use" technologies that may be prone to misuse, are grounded in an incomplete understanding of the brain, or are based on a limited view of the political contexts in which these technologies arise. A concluding section looks at policy and regulatory options that might promote the benefits of emerging neuroscience, while mitigating attendant risks.

    Key Features:

    • First broad survey of the ethics of neuroscience as it applies to national security
    • Innovative ethical analysis over a range of cross-cutting technologies including behavior prediction and modification tools, human enhancement, and novel lethal and nonlethal weapons
    • Ethical analysis covering all stages from the development, testing, and use (or misuse) of these technologies; and decisions from the individual scientist to the nation state

    • Strong policy focus at multiple levels, from self-governance to international regulation
    • Combination of philosophical analysis with grounded, practical recommendations


    Part I: Brains in Battle

    2. Predicting the Future

    3. The Science of Persuasion

    4. Building a Better Warfighter

    5. Neuroweapons

    Part II: Neuroethics and National Security

    6. Whither Neuroethics?

    7. Translation

    8. Dual-Use

    9. Corruption

    10. Neurosupremacy

    Part III: Policy

    11. Self-Regulation

    12. Organizations

    13. Nations

    14. Global Governance

    15. Restructuring Science


    Nicholas G. Evans is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He is the co-editor of Ebola’s Message: Public Health and Medicine in the Twenty-First Century (2016).

    "Advances in neuroscience will raise increasing problems in relation to national security in the post COVID-19 world. This book demonstrates just how complex these problems will be and stresses the collective role that scientists could play in dealing with them. I hope that his ethical analysis of neuroscience and national security will be widely read, particularly by neuroscientists."
    Malcolm Dando, University of Bradford, U.K.