Work in progress (last updated 20030915)

1. What is the CCLE?

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 Cognitive Liberty?

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 Liberty important?

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?

Individual and 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 choice.

Privacy: 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.


Autonomy: 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 industry.


Choice: 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 Court.

The CCLE 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 engagements.

Click here to view our major achievements.

6.  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?

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 neuroscience.

The 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 human mind.

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 [email protected]