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Title: Ethical issues in the bioprediction of brain-based disorder
Author: Baum, Matthew L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 338X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The development of predictive biomarkers in neuroscience is increasingly enabling bioprediction of adverse behavioural events, from psychosis to impulsive violent reaction. Because many brain-based disorders can be thought of as end-states of a long development, bioprediction carries immense therapeutic potential. In this thesis, I analyse issues raised by the development of bioprediction of brain-based disorder. I argue that ethical analysis of probabilities and risk information bioprediction provides is confounded by philosophical and social structures that have, until recently, functioned nominally well by assuming categorical (binary) concepts of disorder, especially regarding brain-disorder. Through an analysis of the philosophical concept of disorder, I argue that we can and ought to reorient disorder around probability of future harm and stratify disorder based on the magnitude of risk. Rejection of binary concepts in favour of this non-binary (probability-based) one enables synergy with bioprediction and circumnavigation of ethical concerns raised about proposed disorders of risk in psychiatry and neurology; I specifically consider psychosis and dementia risk. I then show how probabilistic thinking enables consideration of the implications of bioprediction for two areas salient in mental health: moral responsibility and justice. Using the example of epilepsy and driving as a model of obligations to protect others against risk of harm, I discuss how the development of bioprediction is poised to enhance moral responsibility. I then engage with legal cases and science surrounding a predictive biomarker of impulsive violent reaction to propose that bioprediction can sometimes rightly diminish responsibility. Finally, I show the relevance of bioprediction to theories of distributive justice that assign priority to the worse off. Because bioprediction enables the identification of those who are worse off in a way of which we have previously been ignorant, a commitment to assign priority to the worse off requires development of and equal access to biopredictive technologies.
Supervisor: Savulescu, Julian; Sheehan, Mark Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical Sciences ; Psychiatry ; Neuroscience ; Molecular neuropathology ; Psychotic illness ; Neurology ; Ethics (Moral philosophy) ; Ethics of the biosciences ; Practical ethics ; Criminology ? Sentencing and Punishment ; Public Health ; Biomarkers ; ethics ; neuroethics ; omics ; applied philosophy ; bioprediction ; disorder ; risk ; alzheimers disease ; psychosis ; epilepsy ; distributive justice ; predictive biomarkers