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Animal Research in Neurotechnology: Wilful Ignorance, Blameworthiness, and the Virtue of Inquisitiveness

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posted on 2024-03-05, 04:53 authored by Lindsay Louise Roberts
Neurotechnology is a developing field of brain-centred research, aimed at enabling the brain to control, modify, and simulate our environment. With broad applications, the actual and potential involvement of animals in research and development of neurotechnology is extensive, however, as an emerging field, the moral permissibility of animals in neurotechnology has been understudied. Valued as a multi-billion-dollar sector, there has been an increase in research in the area over the last decade, and with increasing research comes increasing harms to animals, due both to the number of animals used and, as the sector develops, potential novel harms. Because of these current and prospective harms to animals, my research explores our ignorance of animal suffering in invasive neurotechnology research, and investigates whether and how we may be wilfully ignorant of those harms to which we contribute. My project further explores whether we have moral responsibilities to inquire about how animals may have been involved before we accept a particular treatment. Existing literature on blameworthiness tends to concentrate on direct actions that harm others, it is relatively silent on activities and choices that cause or propagate indirect harms to nonhuman animals. My research addresses this deficit by relying on a vice epistemology account to argue that it is entirely appropriate to attribute blameworthiness for our epistemic failings in relation to this engagement with products of animal research. My research further argues that, when moral harms do, or could, ensue from that engagement, we have an obligation to correct those failings. These arguments have the potential to lead to a deeper recognition of the implications of, and create change in, our interactions with nonhuman animals in the space of neurotechnology research specifically, and our interactions with others more generally.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1 -- Animals -- Chapter 2 -- Ignorance -- Chapter 3 -- Inquisitiveness -- Chapter 4 -- Conclusion -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jane Johnson

Additional Supervisor 1

Katrina Hutchison


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




115 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 285960

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