Cognitive Enrichment on Cognitive Enhancement at the Michigan Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

By Shweta Sahu

Photo Credit: Anne Trelfa

On February 19, the Michigan Undergraduate Philosophy Conference assembled for the 4th annual meeting at the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience in Flint, Michigan. The program is jointly hosted by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics and the University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department. I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at this incredible event through the generous support of the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience and the Neuroethics Program at Emory. The goals of the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics are to promote “the exploration of conceptual foundations of neuroscience” and to “study the implications of their advances for society in the legal, political, and ethical realms.” The conference, organized by Cody Hatfield-Myers, a senior at the University of Michigan- Flint, brought together students from multiple states in the US and even a few students from Canada.

The event, directed at undergraduate students, aimed to foster the sharing of students’ diverse papers, all linked by the common themes of cognition and neuroethics. Central topics of discussion included: philosophy of mind, cognitive science, neuroscience, philosophy of action and free will, identity, medical ethics and memory, learning, belief, and knowledge. Common questions that seemed to resurface included: What is self-identity? Can you freely alter your own self-identity? Are there aspects of one’s personal identity that it would be wrong to alter, eliminate or hide? If so, why? What is the proper role of medicine—to eliminate illness or to enhance people (physically, morally, psychologically) to make them “better than well”?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.