How the New Neuroscience Will Change Our Lives and Our Politics
Robert H. Blank
Neural grafting, virtual reality, gene therapy, psychotropic drugs … As startling new treatments emerge for disorders of the brain, new concerns are arising along with them. In the first book to examine the implications of the full range of revolutionary interventions now possible in the human brain, Robert H. Blank warns that while these new techniques may promise medical wonders, they also raise profound political questions.
Our rapidly unfolding knowledge about the brain and the accompanying applications have three main policy dimensions: funding research initiatives, controlling individual use, and assessing social consequences. But underlying these aspects, Blank argues, are more disturbing issues that pose fundamental challenges to our conceptions of equality, autonomy, freedom, responsibility, and human nature itself.
Brain Policy makes the key facts from the technical literature readily accessible to social scientists and general readers and points out the implications for our society. Blank first explains the structure and function of the nervous system and current theories of brain operation; he then assesses the uses and potential abuses of various intervention techniques. He identifies the public policy issues raised by discoveries in the neurosciences and calls for intensified scrutiny of the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies.
Warning that the risks and dangers of the dramatic developments in neuroscience are potentially large, Blank offers a means of understanding these scientific advances and the philosophical and political issues they entail. This book will be of interest to social scientists, policy analysts, policy makers, bioethicists, scientists who want to see the bigger picture, and the informed reader with an interest in the implications of neuroscience for themselves and society.
1. Introduction: Intervention in the Brain
2. The Brain: Structure, Development, and Death
3. The Brain, the Mind, and Consciousness
4. Genetics and the Brain
5. The Brain and Behavior
6. Brain Intervention Techniques
7. Neural Grafting
9. Conclusions: The Emergence of Brain Policy
"Americans, Blank argues convincingly, don't yet appreciate the enormous potential of neuroscience — or its likely social and political impacts . . . But, as the author makes clear, brain modification — even more than genetic engineering — will profoundly influence our lives in the decades to come."—Wilson Quarterly
"Has some real strengths . . . The opening chapters . . . provide a first-rate introduction to neuroscience for the lay person. Blank condenses remarkably complex material into concepts that are easily grasped, but avoids gross oversimplification . . . presents a nuanced discussion of the difficult ethical issues surrounding imposed treatment of psychiatric disorders . . . Clearly the book is aimed at a general audience, but scientists not conversant with neuroscience would find it an informative, easy read."—Nature
"An important endeavor . . . a thorough overview of the most intriguing new developments in the neurosciences . . . The text is highly informative yet still easy to read . . . This is a well written work."—Doody's Review Service
"This book is ground breaking in its proposal that policymakers begin thinking of brain policy in the same way they now think of genetics policy or organ transplantation policy . . . provocative. . . . The paradigm is new and original."—Andrea L. Bonnicksen, professor, Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Robert H. Blank is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Among his many books are Human Reproduction, Emerging Technologies and Conflicting Rights, coauthored with Janna Merrick (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1995) and The Price of Life: The Future of American Health Care (Columbia University Press, 1997).
208 pp., 6 x 9
208 pp., 6 x 9