Jonathan H. Marks
Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University; Pennsylvania State University
This article – informed by science studies scholarship and consonant with the emerging enterprise of “critical neuroscience” – critiques recent neuroscience research, and its current and potential applications in the national security context. The author expresses concern about the subtle interplay between the national security and neuroscience communities, and the hazards of the mutual enchantment that may ensue. The Bush administration’s “war on terror” has provided numerous examples of the abuse of medicine, behavioral psychology, polygraphy and satellite imagery. The defense and national security communities have an ongoing interest in neuroscience too – in particular, neuroimaging and psychoactive drugs (including oxytocin) as aids to interrogation. Given the seductive allure of neuroscientific explanations and colorful brain images, neuroscience in a national security context is particularly vulnerable to abuse. The author calls for an urgent re-evaluation of national security neuroscience as part of a broader public discussion about neuroscience’s non-therapeutic goals.