The past two decades have witnessed an explosion of activity in neuroscience, driven forward by the success of high resolution techniques for imaging neural activity.  Thus neuroscience has made enormous advances in recent years, challenging our traditional understanding of consciousness, responsibility, well-being and morality. Our newfound knowledge of the brain and the mind undermines previous beliefs about a number of areas of private and public life, including addiction and its treatment, criminal responsibility, the treatment of vegetative patients, medical decision making and the enhancement of normal human capacities. It also raises a new question: what are the moral limits of the use of such technology? 

 Neuroethics encompasses two different consequences of this neural revolution: (1) the application of such neuroscientific techniques to understanding ethics, and (2) ethical implications of the new technology.

Under (1), our understanding of the neural processes that underlie ethical judgements is accelerating, with some of the leading work taking place in the Centre.  These dramatic advances are helping to answer some of the most long-standing questions about the nature of moral psychology.

Under (2), work in the Centre examines the ethical implications of a wide range of issues generated by the new neuroscience, including: consciousness in vegetative state patients, use of drugs and brain stimulation for cognitive and moral enhancement, addiction and the mechanisms of self-control, and the use of neuroscientific techniques to monitor and improve difficult practical decision making.

For information and resources relating to the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, please see the project's webpages here.


  • Maslen, H., Savulescu, J., Levy, N., Cohen Kadosh, R. and Douglas, T., (2014), 'Mind Machines: The Regulation of Cognitive Enhancement Devices', Oxford Martin School Policy Paper  [freely available]
  • Ord, T. (2010 ongoing), Consultant on the ethics of Artifical General Intelligence for a new AGI company at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London.
  • Savulescu, J. (2009), European Parliament. Brain Awareness Week Debate Presentation: From Stem Cells to Neuroethics (18 March 2009)











  • Erler, A. (2010), ‘Does memory modification threaten our authenticity?’, Neuroethics, Vol: 4, 235-249 [open access]
  • Foddy, B. and Savulescu, J., (2010). "A Liberal Account of Addiction" Philosophy,  Psychology, and Psychiatry, Vol: 17(1): 1-22. [open access]
  • Kahane, G. and Shackel, N. (2010), 'Methodological Issues in the Neuroscience of Moral Judgment', Mind and Language Vol: 25(5): pp. 561-582.
  • Levy, N. (2010), 'Preface. In (eds). Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics', in  J. Giordano and B. Gordijn (Eds) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Levy, N. (2010), 'Evolutionary Ethics: A Survey', in  N. Levy (Eds) Evolutionary Ethics, (Ashgate)
  • Levy, N. and Linquist, S. (2010), 'Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Evolutionary Psychology', in  S. Linquist and N. Levy (Eds) Evolutionary Psychology, (Ashgate)
  • Levy, N. (2010), 'Psychopathy, Responsibility and the Moral/Conventional Distinction', in  L. Malatesti and J. McMillan (Eds) Responsibility and Psychopathy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
  • Levy, N. (2010), 'Addiction and Compulsion', in  T. O’Connor and C. Sandis (Eds) A Companion to the Philosophy of Action, (Blackwell)
  • Levy, N. (2010), 'Appiah’s Experiments in Ethics', Neuroethics Vol: 3(3): pp. 197-200
  • Mars, R.B., Shea, N.J., Kolling, N. and Rushworth, M.F.S., (2010), 'Model-based analyses: Promises, pitfalls, and example applications to the study of cognitive control', Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Vol: 65(2): 252-267.
  • Shea, N. and Bayne, T., (2010), 'The Vegetative State and the Science of Consciousness', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol: 61(3): 459-484 [open access]



The Practical Ethics Video Series makes the most important and complex debates in practical ethics accessible to a wide audience through brief interviews with high profile philosophers in Oxford.  Video interviews on this and other topics can be found on our YouTube channel.


Human Brain Organoids: the Science, the Ethics

On 1 June 2018, the International Neuroethics Society (INS) and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities at the University of Oxford co-hosted a symposium on human brain organoids. Neuroscientists, clinicians, lawyers and philosophers gathered to hear lectures given by Madeline Lancaster, Julian Savulescu, and INS President Hank Greely.  The lectures were followed by invigorating discussion and debate on the science and the ethics associated with this new technology. You can find videos of the lectures below and an accompanying summary of the issues discussed on the INS website. 

List of site pages