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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophers have long been involved in the pursuit of a goal shared by researchers in psychiatry and the cognitive sciences: understanding the relationship between the functioning of the human mind and human well-being or suffering. For this reason there is a very large area of overlap between philosophical and psychiatric research. The overlap is particularly significant in the domain of practical ethics, which is concerned with understanding the moral dimension of policies and actions in the real world. This chapter reviews two distinct domains in which psychiatry and practical ethics overlap. First, issues in practical ethics arise out of new advances in psychopharmacology, including clinical and non-clinical use of new antidepressants drugs, the clinical use of placebo medications, and psychiatric drugs which enhance human cognition; these issues are frequently grouped under the banner of "neuroethics." Second, the understanding of fundamental questions in moral philosophy is being driven forward by evidence from psychology and psychiatry. Evidence from autism and the personality disorders is shedding light on the nature of moral motivation, while evidence from addiction and compulsion is generating progress in understanding moral responsibility. Finally, some areas are highlighted in which the science of psychiatry may benefit from the application of existing work in moral philosophy and practical ethics.

Keywords: ethics, psychiatric ethics, neuroethics, moral psychology, personal identity, cognitive enhancement, placebo, addiction, moral responsibility

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