Concentration in Neuroethics

Students enrolled and in good-standing in the Neuroscience Doctoral program can earn a Concentration in Neuroethics within the Neuroscience doctoral program administered by the Neuroscience Institute (NI). The program is overseen by the appropriate faculty in the Department of Philosophy in conjunction with the NI Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate Program Committee.

Neuroethics considers how ethical theories inform neuroscientific practice and how neuroscientific discoveries inform ethical theorizing. It is a new and exciting interdisciplinary field that links philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, legal studies, and other disciplines. For these reasons, a program in Neuroethics is an ideal tool to further promote connections among the departments comprising the Brains & Behavior program and the Neuroscience Institute. Students trained in Neuroethics can study the interrelated areas of the ethics of neuroscience research, the neural basis of ethical behavior, and the relevance of neuroscience to the legal questions. They may focus on developing ethical protocols for the proper conduct of neuroscientific research, for instance research involving cognitive enhancement or direct manipulation of the brain, or they may use their expertise to develop appropriate regulations for biomedical research activities. They may consider the implications of brain scanning technology with respect to lie detection, marketing, and the prediction of future behavior. They may contribute to the emerging legal debates about the role of neuroscientific information in judicial decisions about criminal guilt and punishment.

Administration and Curriculum

The Philosophy faculty who are jointly appointed with the NI will oversee the Neuroethics Concentration, along with the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Committee of the NI. The administration of the concentration would include:

  • Admissions:  Admission to the Concentration, and the certification of its successful completion, will be managed by the Philosophy faculty jointly appointed in the NI in consultation with the NI Director of Graduate Studies. Both applicants to the Ph.D. program in Neuroscience and continuing students at any stage of their graduate training in the NI may apply to participate in the Neuroethics Concentration. Entering students will be admitted competitively on the basis of their overall promise and stated interest in Neuroethics. Continuing students will be admitted on a rolling basis if they petition the NI Graduate Program Committee, provided they are in good standing in the Neuroscience Ph.D. program. Once admitted, students will complete the Concentration requirements as they complete the requirements for their Ph.D.
  • Supervision and Advisement: Neuroscience Ph.D. students who enroll in the Neuroethics Concentration will be able to work under the supervision of core and associate members of the NI and to have these faculty on their Ph.D. committees. Students in the Concentration are not required to focus their dissertation on Neuroethics, but they have the option of doing so under the direction of Philosophy faculty who are associate members of the NI. Advisement will be provided by the student’s Ph.D. supervisor and by the NI Director of Graduate Studies.

Requirements for the Concentration in Neuroethics for Neuroscience Ph.D. students

• Neuroethics Ph.D. students must satisfy all requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience:
• A minimum of 90 hours of graduate credit.
• The Master of Science in Neuroscience (36 hours), including a minimum of 28 hours of graduate classroom coursework:
• Neuroscience core course (NEUR 8000, 4 hours).
• Core elective courses (select 2 of the following: NEUR 8010, 8020, 8031, 8420, 3 hours each, 6 hours total).
• Quantitative course requirement (either NEUR 8040 or NEUR 8380, 3-4 hours).
• Graduate Studies core courses (NEUR 8600, 1 hour, and NEUR 8050, 3 hours; 4 hours total).
• Neuroscience electives (10-11 hours, 6 of which must be Topics, Concepts and/or Seminar courses).
• Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam.
• A minimum of 54 semester hours of research credit. This requirement can be satisfied by a combination of Neur 9910 Advanced Research, Neur 9999 Dissertation Research (minimum 20 hours), and Neur 9920 Advanced Directed Readings or the equivalent.
• An approved dissertation proposal.
• An approved dissertation.
• A successful dissertation defense.
• Ph.D. students with a Concentration in Neuroethics must take 12 hours of coursework in relevant philosophy courses (4 courses) to satisfy the concentration, and receive a grade of B or better in each of these courses. One of these courses (those with Neur 6000-level numbers, listed below) may be used to satisfy the Neuroscience Elective requirement, and one of these courses (those with Neur 8000-level numbers, listed below) may be used to satisfy 3 of the required 6 hours of the Topics/Concepts/Seminar requirement.  The additional 6 hours in Neuroethics courses can be taken in lieu of additional credit hours in research (Neur 9910) or directed readings (Neur 9920) that current Neuroscience doctoral students currently take in excess of the minimum 54 credit hours required for the Ph.D.
• Currently, the following courses satisfy the Neuroethics concentration (other relevant courses may satisfy it with prior approval from the Director of Graduate Studies of NI):
• Phil 6130/Neur 6500 Philosophy of Science
• Phil 6330/Neur 6520 Philosophy of Mind
• Phil 6340/Neur 6510 Philosophy and Cognitive Science
• Phil 6700/Neur 6550 Ethical Theory
• Phil 6740/Neur 6560 Biomedical Ethics
• Phil 6770/Neur 6540 Moral Psychology
• Phil 6780/Neur 6530 Neuroethics
• Phil 6790/Neur 8761 Topics in Neuroethics
• Phil 6820/Neur 6570 Philosophy of Law
• Phil 8130/Neur 8750 Seminar in Philosophy of Science
• Phil 8330/Neur 8760 Seminar in Philosophy of Mind
• Phil 8340/Neur 8770 Seminar in Philosophy and Cognitive Science
• Phil 8700/Neur 8763 Seminar in Ethics
• Phil 8720 Seminar in Neuroethics
• Phil 8740/Neur 8764 Seminar in Biomedical Ethics
• Phil 8770/Neur 8761 Seminar in Moral Psychology
• Phil 8820 Seminar in Philosophy of Law