Once and Future Clinical Neuroethics: A History of What Was and What Might Be.

TitleOnce and Future Clinical Neuroethics: A History of What Was and What Might Be.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsFins, Joseph J.
JournalJ Clin Ethics
Date PublishedSpring 2019
KeywordsBioethics, Consciousness, History, 20th Century, Humans, Neurosciences, Persistent Vegetative State

While neuroethics is generally thought to be a modern addition to the broader field of bioethics, this subdiscipline has existed in clinical practice throughout the course of the 20th century. In this essay, Fins describes an older tradition of clinical neuroethics that featured such physician-humanists as Sir William Osler, Wilder Penfield, and Fred Plum, whose work and legacy exploring disorders of consciousness is highlighted. Their normative work was clinically grounded and focused on the needs of patients, in contrast to modern neuroethics, which is more speculative and distant from the lived reality of the clinic. Using recent developments in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of consciousness, and the history of the vegetative and minimally conscious states, Fins asks why modern neuroethics has taken this turn and what can be done to restore clinical neuroethics to a more proportionate place in the field.

Alternate JournalJ Clin Ethics
PubMed ID30896441

Weill Cornell Medicine Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury 520 East 70th Street New York, NY