FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Work in progress (last updated 20030915)
1. What is the
The Center for
Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) is a nonprofit law and policy institute
working to advance sustainable social policies that protect freedom of
thought. We work to promote public awareness and legal recognition of
cognitive liberty – the right of each individual to think independently, to
have decision-making authority over matters affecting his or her mind, and
to engage in the full spectrum of possible thought. Our complete
mission statement is here:
2. What is
The CCLE defines
cognitive liberty as the right of each individual to think independently and
autonomously, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in
multiple modes of thought.
3. Why is Cognitive
The right of a person
to liberty, autonomy, and privacy over his or her own intellect is situated
at the core of what it means to be a free person. This principle is what
gives life to some of our most well-established and cherished rights. Today,
as new drugs and other technologies are being developed for augmenting,
monitoring, and manipulating mental processes, it is more important than
ever to ensure that our legal system recognizes and protects cognitive
liberty as a fundamental right.
4. What are some
examples of how Cognitive Liberty can be threatened?
collective cognitive liberty is threatened when technologies with the
capacity to control or monitor cognition are applied or regulated without
clear guiding principles that guarantee cognitive privacy, autonomy, and
What goes on in your mind should remain private unless you choose to share
it. The use of technologies such as brain imaging and scanning must
remain consensual and information that they might reveal should remain
confidential. The right to privacy must encompass the inner
domain of thought.
Self-determination over one’s own cognition is central to free will. Decisions concerning whether or how to change a person’s thought processes
must remain the province of the individual as opposed to government or
The capabilities of the human mind should not be limited. So long as
a person is not directly harming others, governments should not criminally
prohibit cognitive enhancement or the occasioning of any mental state.
5. How does CCLE
protect Cognitive Liberty?
The CCLE focuses public
attention on emerging cognitive liberty issues, and advocates for social
policies that respect and protect the full potential of the human intellect.
To advance in its mission, the CCLE monitors and analyzes developments in
neurotechnology, cognitive sciences and the law. We identify and offer
guidance concerning those developments with a potential to significantly
impact freedom of thought. We have filed legal briefs on the topic of
cognitive liberty in federal courts, including the United States Supreme
empowers people to meaningfully participate in democracy by raising
public awareness of ethical and policy implications impacting freedom of
thought. We provide
university course content, seminars and speaking
here to view our major achievements.
When was the CCLE established?
The CCLE was
established in January 2000, as a nonprofit law, policy, and public
education center dedicated to fostering freedom of thought. The CCLE is a
nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code,
meaning that all donations to the CCLE are tax-deductible.
7. What is
Neuroethics is a new field concerned with the
benefits and dangers of modern research on the brain, and by extension, with
the social, legal and ethical implications of treating or manipulating the
mind. Neuroethics critically examines the rapidly expanding fields of
CCLE's unique principles acknowledging the primacy of mental privacy,
autonomy and choice, i.e. cognitive liberty, place us at the forefront of
discussions concerning this developing discipline.
8. What is the CCLE's
position on drug policy reform?
Our focus is on protecting
freedom of thought, and we maintain that criminal drug prohibition violates
freedom of thought by intimately infringing on the fundamental right to
self-determine one’s own mental states. For more about the CCLE's
position within the debate over national drug policy, see our mini-FAQ: "Is
the CCLE A Drug Policy Reform Group?"
9. What makes CCLE unique?
The CCLE is the only
organization in the world working exclusively to foster and protect
freedom of thought. Our central aim is to protect the full potential of the
10. How can I
contact the CCLE?
The Center for
Cognitive Liberty & Ethics no long operates a centralized office. However,
you can still reach us at