Do Predictive Brain Implants Threaten Patient's Autonomy or Authenticity?

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The development of predictive brain implant (PBI) technology that is able to forecast specific neuronal events and advise and/or automatically administer appropriate therapy for diseases of the brain raises a number of ethical issues. Provided that this technology satisfies basic safety and functionality conditions, one of the most pressing questions to address is its relation to the autonomy of patients. As Frederic Gilbert in his article asks, if autonomy implies a certain idea of freedom, or self-government, how can an individual be considered to decide freely if the implanted device stands at the inception of the causal chain producing his decisions? He claims that PBIs threaten persons’ autonomy by diminishing their post-operative experience of self-control. In this commentary, I wish to discuss this claim. Contrary to Gilbert, I will suggest that PBIs do not pose a significant threat to patient’s autonomy, as self-control, but rather to his/her sense of authenticity. My claim is that the language of authenticity, already introduced in the recent bioethical literature, may offer a better way to voice some of the concerns with PBIs that Gilbert recognized.
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Archival date: 2018-06-06
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