Neuroethics and Philosophy in Responsible Research and Innovation: The Case of the Human Brain Project

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Abstract

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an important ethical, legal, and political theme for the European Commission. Although variously defined, it is generally understood as an interactive process that engages social actors, researchers, and innovators who must be mutually responsive and work towards the ethical permissibility of the relevant research and its products. The framework of RRI calls for contextually addressing not just research and innovation impact but also the background research process, specially the societal visions underlying it and the norms and priorities that shape scientific agendas. This requires the integration of anticipatory, inclusive, and responsive dimensions, and the nurturing of a certain type of reflexivity among a variety of stakeholders, from scientists to funders. In this paper, we do not address potential limitations but focus on the potential contribution of philosophical reflection to RRI in the context of the Ethics and Society subproject of the Human Brain Project (HBP). We show how the type of conceptual analysis provided by philosophically oriented approaches theoretically and ethically broadens research and innovation within the HBP. We further suggest that overt inclusion of philosophical reflection can promote the aims and objectives of RRI.

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