Neuroessentialism, our Technological Future, and DBS Bubbles



Having reviewed a considerable body of scholarly work in neuroethics related to DBS, Gilbert, Viaña, and Ineichen identify a major flaw in the debate—a “bubble” in the literature—and propose new directions for research. This comment addresses the authors’ diagnosis: What exactly is the nature of this bubble? Here, I argue that there are at least two different orientations in the “DBS causes personality changes” bubble. According to a first narrative, DBS is a special technology because its direct, causal action on the brain leads to personality changes. This approach emphasizes the brain as the seat of personality, the locus of identity, or the center of agency. According to a second narrative, technology in general plays a major role in our lives and in our experiences as human subjects, and DBS is no exception. Technology matters up to the point that it reshapes, redefines, or re-determines traditional concepts such as personality, authenticity, or agency. I point out that both narratives are distinct components of the “DBS causes personality changes” bubble diagnosed by the authors of the target article and claim that the two narratives raise somehow different philosophical and empirical issues.


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