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Pragmatic Neuroethics: Lived Experiences as a Source of Moral Knowledge



In this article, we present a pragmatic approach to neuroethics, referring back to John Dewey and his articulation of the “common good” and its discovery through systematic methods. Pragmatic neuroethics bridges philosophy and social sciences and, at a very basic level, considers that ethics is not dissociable from lived experiences and everyday moral choices. We reflect on the integration between empirical methods and normative questions, using as our platform recent bioethical and neuropsychological research into moral cognition, action, and experience. Finally, we present the protocol of a study concerning teenagers’ morality in everyday life, discussing our epistemological choices as an example of a pragmatic approach in empirical ethics. We hope that this article conveys that even though the scope of neuroethics is broad, it is important not to move too far from the real life encounters that give rise to moral questions in the first place.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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This article is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator awarded to Ilina Singh for a project entitled “Becoming Good: Early Intervention and Moral Development in Child Psychiatry (104825/Z/14/Z).”



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This article is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator awarded to Ilina Singh for a project entitled “Becoming Good: Early Intervention and Moral Development in Child Psychiatry (104825/Z/14/Z).”


Pragmatic Neuroethics: Lived Experiences as a Source of Moral Knowledge



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