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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 neuroscience.
The CCLE has developed the
to focus public attention on trends in pharmacology and neuro-technology
that have an impact on individual rights of mind. With this project, the
CCLE seeks to educate and foster public debate in relation to emerging
neurotechnologies and drugs, and to encourage social policies that respect
and protect the full potential of the human intellect.
Growing knowledge in
the neurosciences, enhanced by exponential advances in neuro-technologies
(technologies that make it possible to monitor and manipulate the brain’s
electrochemistry) are rapidly moving brain research and clinical
applications beyond the scope of purely medical use.
of bioethics have evolved from concerns over medical intervention and
experimental biotech research, to assessing widespread
social implications that result from the use of biotechnologies for
non-medical, or life "enhancement" purposes. A
similar shift will predictably occur in neuroethics, from questions concerning the treatment of patients with
brain disease, to
a debate over individuals' requests for voluntary, life-enhancing, or
creative applications of new pharmaceuticals and brain technologies. Ultimately,
any regulatory system set in place should consider cognitive liberty as a
core value in neuroethics--empowering individuals to make intelligent decisions about
the drugs or technologies they decide to use.
the study and treatment of old-age memory loss/enhancement to the use and
abuse of Ritalin in the classroom, a variety of discrete concerns exist
within the emerging field of neuroethics. One prominent area of concern centers on neurotheology
(the study of subjective spiritual experiences in relation to brain
anatomy and biochemistry). Scientists
are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural
networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry.
the interface between scientific method and religious epiphany, we need to
ethics of mental autonomy, respecting both the scientific method and
various religious cosmologies.
issues are complex and often deeply philosophical, the CCLE maintains that
a solid starting point for practical discussion and analysis begins with
two fundamental recognitions:
- First, under no circumstances should
individuals be compelled against their will to use technologies that
interact with the brain or forced to take certain drugs.
- Second, so long as they
do not subsequently engage in behavior that harms others, individuals
should not be prohibited, under threat of criminal prosecution, from using
new mind-augmenting drugs and technologies.
The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
(CCLE) is a nonprofit public education, law, and policy center working in
the public interest to foster cognitive liberty.
broadly defines cognitive liberty as the right of each individual to
think independently, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to
engage in multiple modes of thought. More specifically, the CCLE considers
cognitive liberty to mediate between freedom of thought and
electro-chemical manipulation of the brain.
engages in the following activities to reach its goals:
Monitors the media for new
technologies and new pharmaceuticals with a potential impact on freedom of
thought, cognitive liberty, or mental autonomy.
Educates the public via
literature, reports, publications, and lectures.
Works to broaden the
neuroethics discussion among scientists, policy makers, and the public to
include cognitive liberty as a core principle.
Files amicus curiae
(“friend of the court” briefs) in precedent setting legal cases.
Develops and disseminates
course curriculum on
“Cognitive Liberty &
- Coordinates with our
as well as our
Entheogen & Drug Policy Project
address common issues.