Neurotechnology ethics and relational agency

Sara Goering, Timothy Brown, Eran Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Novel neurotechnologies, like deep brain stimulation and brain-computer interface, offer great hope for treating, curing, and preventing disease, but raise important questions about effects these devices may have on human identity, authenticity, and autonomy. After briefly assessing recent narrative work in these areas, we show that agency is a phenomenon key to all three goods and highlight the ways in which neural devices can help to draw attention to the relational nature of our agency. Drawing on insights from disability theory, we argue that neural devices provide a kind of agential assistance, similar to that provided by caregivers, family, and others. As such, users and devices participate in a kind of co-agency. We conclude by suggesting the need for developing relational agency-competencies—skills for reflecting on the influence of devices on agency, for adapting to novel circumstances ushered in by devices, and for incorporating the feedback of loved ones and others about device effects on agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12734
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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