Neuroethics: the cerebral basis of justice and democracy? Philosophy Seminar NEUROETHICS: THE CEREBRAL BASIS OF JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY?

Neuroethics: the cerebral basis of justice and democracy?

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Adela Cortina


  1. Adela CortinaAdela Cortina

    Adela Cortina es desde 1987 catedrática de Ética y Filosofía Política en la Universidad de Valencia, y desde 2008 miembro de la Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas. Es becaria del DAAD y de la Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, lo cual le permitió profundizar estudios en las Universidades de Múnich y Francfort. Ha sido profesora visitante en las universidades de Louvain-la-Neuve, Amsterdam, Notre Dame y Cambridge.

    Es directora de la Fundación ÉTNOR y del Máster Interuniversitario “Ética y Democracia”, Vocal de la Comisión Nacional de Reproducción Humana Asistida, Vocal del Consejo Asesor del Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, del Board de la International Development Ethics Association, de la Human Development and Capability Association y de la Societas Ethica. Entre sus libros cabe recordar Razón comunicativa y responsabilidad solidaria (1985), Ética mínima (1986), Ética sin moral (1990), Ética aplicada y democracia radical (1993), Ciudadanos del mundo (1997), Alianza y Contrato (2001), Por una ética del consumo (2002), Ética de la razón cordial (2007), Lo justo como núcleo de las Ciencias Morales y Políticas (2008) y Las fronteras de la persona. El valor de los animales, la dignidad de los humanos (2009).

The most proper virtue of public life is justice. Without fair institutions and without fair citizens, it is complicated that the democratic life functions appropriately. Anyhow, there is always a question remaining: the citizen is made or born?, do humans have a background since we are born that encourages us to be good citizens and construct good institutions, or is it rather that we need to build the ideal of justice that we want and do the effort to be educated in it? Naturalism and Constructivism are two poles between which it seems that the contributions of philosophy and social sciences are incorporated.

Nevertheless, in recent times a new new knowledge defined as "neuroethics" also guesses some answers to these questions and pretends to use them to discover the cerebral basis of an universal ethic. This would be an ethic inscribed in the brain of all human beings that would explain our sense of justice and would finally allow to formulate justice principles in which all men and women of all cultures would agree, and would give orientation to build the corresponding political institutions. A very attractive promise, no doubt about it, for a period in which we are more aware than ever about  the multicultural nature if our world.

This conference proposes first to present some positions that from neurosciences defend the existence of a universal ethic of justice inscribed in our human brain, that endorses certain political systems; secondly, we will attempt to evaluate the critical positions; and last, we will expose the ethic proposal itself and its repercussions for policy, law, or economy, and above all, education, which is the main problem in any country. This proposal will take advantage of the contributions made by neurosciences, but will also go beyond them.