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Scientists Say They Need Philosophers to Continue Their Research

At the University of Washington, researchers are pioneering a field of neuroscience called "neuroengineering," which will one day involve doing things like regulating people's moods with brain implants. In this fascinating video, they explain how their work spilled over into philosophy.

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The issues that these neuroengineers are tackling are going to become increasingly important in many scientific fields that touch on the human mind. Entering the Brain Age also means that lab research will be trying to answer the same questions that people in the humanities have contemplated for thousands of years. Who are we? Do we have freewill? If somebody is controlling our minds with chemicals and medical devices, how is that different from controlling us with ideology or economic incentives?

The much-vaunted "war" between science and culture seems destined to end in a synthesis, at least in cases like these.

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DISCUSSION

jonrockle01
Jon Rockle

After reading some of the comments here and the previous NDT article, I'm surprised about the utterly dismissive attitude toward philosophy. You'd think philosophers must have at some point given scientists atomic wedgies, or that philosophers are competing with scientists for funding and hot dates. Comments saying that thousands of years of philosophy have contributed nothing toward understanding free will or consciousness, while science will definitively and imminently answer all—where do you get the 100 percent confidence to make such bold claims? Have you even read one percent of the philosophy that is out there? You're so sure that philosophy hasn't contributed/will not contribute anything to scientific advancement and even (some of you seem to suggest) values clarification? Right now, the conservative/capitalist mindset is already focused on getting rid of the liberal arts, including philosophy departments. When they succeed and start gutting your more theoretical science programs without direct applied value, remember your comments here; maybe you'll wish you had a philosophical value argument to launch then.