News & Events

5/3/2013
Ertegun House

Neuroethics

The Neuroethics Workshop, organized by Oxford's Dr. Regina Rini and held on 5 March at Ertegun House, functioned as a research exchange between the University of Oxford and the University of Tokyo. 

Three researchers from each university presented on topics in neuroethics. As "neuroethics" is a quite new topic in contemporary philosophy, the workshop served to develop a concept of neuroethics as well as to demonstrate cutting-edge work from Oxford and Tokyo. The presentations ranged from Yukihiro Nobuhara's (Tokyo) "Emotion, motivation, and moral judgment," to Dr. Kahane's (Oxford) "Moral Neuroscience: Empirical Research and Ethical Implications."

Koji Ota's (Tokyo) presentation was of particular interest to me, as it aligned closely with my research interests in moral intuition, the gut-reaction type responses people have to certain moral questions. 

Some researchers have found that presumably irrelevant factors like question order affect people's moral intuitions. Ota's talk, "Thinking about moral intuitions: variability and justification," presented a new argument about seemingly problematic variability in ordinary people's moral judgments. His conclusion is that the influence of factors like question order on moral intuition might not be as troubling as previously thought.

The workshop also included talks on applied issues. Ryoji Sato (Tokyo) presented an insightful talk on the ethics of neurofeedback and Anders Sandberg (Oxford) asked, "Should we enhance the cognitive function of juries?" The workshop concluded with Dr. Rini's "What is the 'neuro' in neuroethics?" and a closing drinks reception. The event was well attended, with philosophers from Oxford and Tokyo and Ertegun Scholars.