Abstract — In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama decreed the creation of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, as part of his $100 million Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative. In the wake of the work of this Commission, the purpose, goals, possible shortcomings, and even dangers are discussed, and the possible impact it may have upon neuroscience ethics (Neuroethics) both in clinical practice as well as scientific research.
This interview resulted in the May 14, 2014 article, "U.S. Experts urge focus on ethics in brain research" by Kerry Sheridan, AFP Correspondent. The article was distributed through the NewsCred Smartwire, Agence France Presse.
Kerry Sheridan, Agence France-Presse (AFP): Hi Dr. Faria, I'm working on a story about calls for consideration of ethics in neuroscience research, and I was wondering if I could interview you about your thoughts on the need for ethical oversight in neuroscience?
When I get a chance I read Viewpoints, the busy electronic version of the Macon Telegraph (MT), which frequently has heated discussions. On September 5, a discussion centered on a MT reader who stated that although in good health at age 75, his doctor would not perform a PSA test or a colonoscopy because "it was not needed" and besides "something else would kill me before colon or prostate cancer does [given his age]."
Medical efforts to prolong the lives of individuals afflicted with serious disease or injury began with primitive medicine, perhaps in the Neolithic Period (8000-3000 B.C.), when we discerned from paleontologic evidence a tendency for primitive men and women to care for the sick and wounded in the shelters provided by the deep caves of Europe.
Physicians classify diseases in a variety of ways. Clinical classifications are often made according to either the suddenness of onset or the expected prognosis. Diseases are considered acute if they develop suddenly and have a short clinical course. Chronic diseases, on the other hand, have a slow onset, indolent course, and long duration. They heal slowly if they improve at all.
Since the time of Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), the Father of Medicine, physicians have traditionally subscribed to doing no harm and prescribed what is in the best interest of their individual patients; in other words, putting their patients first. This concept is known as individual-based ethics.
The new bioethics movement, on the other hand, subscribes to population-based ethics, in which physicians become obligated to make decisions for their patients in concert with what is in the best interest of society or the state.
Dear Dr. Arnett,
...The author of “Is there a Duty to Die” [philosophy professor John Hardwig, East Tennessee State University] utilized the same misguided arguments to “justify” death as those proposed centuries ago to defend the indefensible, namely, slavery.
In the public debate over legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, opponents of such measures often invoke the history of medicine in Nazi Germany as an example of the danger in these practices. Those who invoke the "Nazi analogy" suggest that the sanctioning of euthanasia could lead to the wholesale destruction of those whose lives are deemed valueless or burdensome to society.
The "shared ethics" espoused by the Tavistock Group reflect a growing collectivist attitude toward medical ethics that is destroying our profession piecemeal (" 'Shared Ethics' for all providers a Quixotic quest," Internal Medicine News, March 1, 1999, p. 5).
The medical ethics of Hippocrates are based on the individual, but groups such as Tavistock embrace a collectivist morality in which individual rights take a back seat to the rights of society, government, and insurers.
March 20, 2002
Dear Mr. Smith,
The foundation of any culture is its philosophy. Over the past few years, a new culture has appeared in America, which has been associated with increased suffering and death.
The four principles that guide current bioethical decision-making are beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and distributive justice. Of these, the first three have been thoroughly discussed in the medical and ethical literature over the past two decades. The many issues that relate to these first three principles, such as consent, abortion, termination of treatment and end-of-life decisions, euthanasia, in-vitro fertilization and cloning, etc., likewise have been well scrutinized.
An entire culture is unraveling because its underlying philosophy is defective. As a part of this philosophy, a new ethics has replaced our traditional medical ethics, and the core values of Western Civilization --- the worth of the individual and the sanctity of human life --- have been rejected, along with the tradition of Hippocrates, religious values, and the very idea of objective right and wrong.
Bioethics is a monster, gestated in big government and the insurance industry.
There were no bioethics courses in my medical school...only a Roman Catholic medical ethics course and exhortations about the tradition of Hippocrates. That was all any physician needed. That is all any physician needs now.