Neuropolitics and Ethical Concerns (Neuropolitika ve Etik)

Çakar T., Işil Ülman F. Y.

Bioethics in a Changing World, vol.1, no.1, pp.327-334, 2012 (Conference Book)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 1 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Journal Name: Bioethics in a Changing World
  • Page Numbers: pp.327-334
  • Acibadem Mehmet Ali Aydinlar University Affiliated: Yes



The progress in the neurotechnologies and brain imaging studies has caused the emergence of new disciplines like neuroarts, neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, neuropolitics. Beyond these scientifically exciting developments, the possible inappropriate use of these technological applications especially by political parties or multinational organizations causes ethical concerns. This study focuses on a relatively new field, neuropolitics, and the possible ethical concerns related to its practical applications. Taking the psychological processes and the behavioral approaches into account has recently gained importance durin,g the last decades. Accordingly, neuropolitics have its main focus on understanding the voters’ behavior better by relying on the brain research and findings(26). More specifically, neuropolitics does not solely rely on the verbal reports as in the traditional behavioral research methods convey. But neuropolitics investigates various psychological processes like attention, emotional arousal, and reasoning processes by using the neuroimaging tools like fMRI, EEG/ERP, and PET. The research performed so far implicates that it is possible to access the underlying reasons of particular behavior that could not be examined by verbal reports. But it also seems worrying that it will be possible to demonstrate some secure and private information by using these methods which would be totally against civil rights (28). In other words, this technology could become a weapon in order to understand the possible tendencies of the voters. Beyond these issues, the risk of manipulation of the voter’s free will poses another crucial ethical issue. As such, the core values and principles of ethics point to a domain of serious issues like the respect of autonomy, self-determination, privacy and confidentiality of human beings. Although neuropolitics has quite been a recent field, the use of this technology during 2008 U.S. Elections has increased the ethical and public concerns (2). The laboratory facilities in Turkey are sufficient to conduct similar research and there have been introductory work observed in the media. In this study, there will be a review for the general concerns related to the neurotechnologies and neuroimaging applications/studies but the main emphasis will be on the ethical concerns and issues directly related to neuropolitics and there will be attempted to provide a couple of propositions in relation to these ethical issues.

Key Words: Neurotechnologies; Neuropolitics; Ethical concerns.