The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics (CCN) is a joint venture between the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint and the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN). CCN supports interdisciplinary research with the conviction that the skills and knowledge that scholars from different disciplines bring to a partnership enrich and inform the others, creating unique, synergistic research that would not be possible in an isolated disciplinary environment.
CCN promotes both the exploration of the conceptual foundations of the neurosciences and the careful study of the legal, political, social and ethical implications of their advances. We are committed to breaking down barriers that exist not only between scholarly disciplines but that surround professions. We support research activities across multiple fields and professions by creating, fostering, and supporting collaborations and communication across student and professional spheres.
Dissemination of CCN’s research is an essential part of our mission. All CCN-published work is available online, open access. We thereby ensure that anyone in the world interested in knowing more about our research projects can have access. From opening doors for students to advancing careers of professionals, from working with local clinicians to collaborating with scholars around the world, our student seminars, academic conferences, and professional publications have set in motion events that will have long-lasting and valuable impact.
Underlying all CCN operations is one simple question: is there a better way? From conferences to publications and from administration to technology, we seek out and implement better approaches to help us achieve CCN’s goals efficiently and to optimally support the efforts of our project partners.
Cognitive Health and Well-Being
Cognitive Well-Being concerns both educational development as well as therapeutic responses after trauma. CCN is interested in supporting research addressing both. CCN is committed to the idea that everyone has a life-long right to educational opportunities optimally designed. We want to arm individuals and their loved ones with knowledge of and access to educational policies and procedures that work most effectively to provide a lifetime of creative, intellectual and artistic development. Brain-related injuries, illnesses, and disease pose multifaceted problems that require the expertise of a range of disciplines. CCN provides the opportunity to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists, clinicians, and ethicists on the design effective therapeutic interventions that are ethically and scientifically well-informed; CCN also is concerned with projects involving therapists, social workers and city planners to address and mitigate the social conditions that aggravate conditions that cause cognitive injury and developmental delays.
Neuroscience, Ethics and Public Policy
The progress of neuroscience has raised difficult questions about choice, free will and moral responsibility. We explore belief formation and action concerns moral and ethical responsibility, issues which in turn poses significant challenges to justifications for legal responsibility, state punishment and current penological practices ad policies. CCN brings together experts from philosophy, social and natural sciences, the law and policy planning to explore the complex relationship between what research is telling us about how humans work, and the assumptions founding social policy and law.
Ethical Urban Living Project
Social policies and legal institutions have a dramatic effect on the way we are able to live our lives, from quality of water, air and food issues, to employment, educational and cultural opportunities and experiences; from matters of public and private health, safety and security, to the expression of justice, liberty and freedom. Situated in Flint, MI, CCN takes seriously the role policy decisions, both historical and current, have dramatically shaped and controlled the lives of individuals living in urban settings. CCN brings together researchers, academics and scholars as well as therapists, clinicians, policy-makers and educators to discover and implement social policies that will realize fairer, more just, and more equitable opportunities for all who live together in modern urban environments.
The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics (CCN) promotes both the exploration of the conceptual foundations of the neurosciences and the careful study of the legal, political, social and ethical implications of their advances. We are committed to breaking down barriers that exist not only between scholarly disciplines but that surround professions. We support research activities across multiple fields and professions by creating, fostering, and supporting collaborations and communication across student and professional spheres. Dissemination of CCN’s research is an essential part of our mission. All CCN-published work is available online, open access. We thereby ensure that anyone in the world interested in knowing more about our research projects can have access. From opening doors for students to advancing careers of professionals, from working with local clinicians to collaborating with scholars around the world, our student seminars, academic conferences, and professional publications have set in motion events that will have long-lasting and valuable impact.
To advance a deeper and richer understanding of recent research in the neurosciences, CCN proudly hosts several conferences at the undergraduate and professional level every year. These conferences showcase research addressing the conceptual foundations of the neurosciences and related disciplines, as well as the legal, political and ethical implications of that research. CCN invites contributors from these conferences to publish their work in our peer-reviewed scholarly journals.
Ethics and the Brain
20-21 May 2016
Safe Spaces: Clean Water
11-12 November 2016
Safe Spaces: Living in a Food Desert
24-25 March 2017
16–17 October 2015
Neurotherapeutics and Psychosurgery
22 May 2015
The Work of Cognition and Neuroethics in Science Fiction
20 March 2015
10–11 October 2014
Reason, Reasons and Reasoning
11–12 October 2013
Mirror Neurons, Empathy and Autism
July 14-17, 2015
CCN supports and manages the production of several publications. Both the Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics and Journal of Ethical Urban Living are professional, peer-reviewed journals. Philosophical Profiles, a publication under the aegis of JCN, showcases interviews with contemporary philosophers whose current work make significant contributions to conversations concerning the multitude of issues surrounding cognition and neuroethics. Compos Mentis is a student managed undergraduate journal featuring student articles. CCN publications are open access, which means that there are neither fees for an author to publish their work nor fees for a reader to have full access to it. By committing to an online, open access journal format, CCN’s journals have a significantly wider reach than traditional pay-wall journals.
Journals are a critical tool for facilitating the growth of knowledge. What we have done at CCN is create a truly unique forum for world-class interdisciplinary research on some of today’s most important and complex questions. No single area of expertise is capable of addressing these issues effectively. The Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics allows scholars from different disciplines to communicate across disciplinary and departmental boundaries, and gives scientists, philosophers, and legal scholars a forum for progressive research and debate on our most daunting social and ethical problems.
community engagement through coursework
CCN Co-Director and Advisory Board Member
Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department
My research and much of my teaching has concerned disability; specifically, I address how legal and social policies affect individuals with impairments and disabilities. I presented "Consent, Sexual Desire and Autism" the the American Philosophical Associations Pacific Division in April 2015. This talk and other talks I have presented recently have grown out of earlier work I did while putting together the book The Philosophy of Autism. My research is always strongly informed by, and is often a reaction to, work within other academic disciplines including law, particularly critical legal students, psychology, feminism, critical race theory and disability studies.
CCN Co-Director and Advisory Board Member
President, Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN)
CCN was something I wanted to see exist for a variety of reasons. First, I feel that the brain sciences are very primitive in their underlying premises. We require a further, deeper inquiry into the philosophical underpinnings before attacking the issues empirically. We are making far ranging assumptions that I believe are flawed and are becoming too dogmatic. I strongly believe that this will delay our search for the answers: who are we, are we agents, what is free will, does it exist, what forces underlie our ability to plan, what are the neurological correlates, are there fundamental forces we are widely missing in our search for a unified theory. Also, ethical issues are deeply important to me. Addressing ethical matters is perhaps the key issue for society to explore in the near future. Historically, unethical decisions have lead human society into very precarious positions. A proper exploration, particularly in the context of brain sciences, may lead to significant contributions in the future. A second reason I wanted to create CCN is because I believe there is no more fertile ground for exploration and development of new ideas than a multidisciplinary team. By combining philosophers with scientists and clinicians and students in a meaningful way, I am convinced we will accelerate the development of the combined fields. I believe that philosophy has much to contribute in the formative stages of work in any discipline. We need to explore our premises and postulates in an intelligent way. Our theories should enhance our ability to explore truth, not inhibit it. Sometimes, in the process of inquiry, we fail to question because of our own established norms and beliefs.
I studied at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Manitoba prior to completing medical school at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada where I was also raised. I completed subspeciality fellowship training in skull base neurosurgery at the University of Arkansas. My areas of specialty include brainstem surgery, vascular neurosurgery, brain tumours, complex spine and neuromodulation. I am involved in extensive research projects including clinical, patent work, biological/mechanical and electrical product development, industry sponsored studies, theoretical philosophy among other areas. I am a faculty member at the Michigan State University Medical School. I have been co-director of the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics since it was created in August 2011. I settled down in Flint, MI with my wife, a native of Flint, and children in the fall of 2003. I currently practice at McLaren, Hurley, and Genesys Hospitals.
Advisory Board Member
Associate Professor and Chair, University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department
I have diverse interests and have written in political philosophy, ethical theory, metaphysics and philosophy of religion. Most recently I presented a paper on "The Metaphysics of Autism" at an interdisciplinary conference in England. It was an adaptation of my chapter from the anthology I co-edited with Jami, The Philosophy of Autism. Next, I hope to return to the issues of moral personhood that I last addressed in my article "Against Humanism," but this time informed by my evolving views on personal identity and what constitutes a good life. Besides Philosophy, my work has drawn from and responded to work in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology. After receiving a B.A. and M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, I earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where my dissertation was "Citizenship, Political Obligation, and the "Right-Based” Social Contract Tradition."
Advisory Board Member
Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department
I am interested in the mystery surrounding consciousness. I worry, along with other philosophers, that no amount of neuroscientific research will ever enable us to explain how and why it exists in a way we find satisfying. But this, I argue, has more to do with our first-person, introspective ways of thinking about our conscious lives: consciousness seems so puzzling and so far removed from brain processes because we have such interesting and unique first-person ways of conceptualizing our consciousness (using so-called phenomenal concepts). I wrote my dissertation, "Concepts, Consciousness and Content," at the University of Maryland, College Park and received my Ph.D. in 2008.
Advisory Board Member
Lecturer, University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department
My current research interests are in machine ethics and the possibility of creating moral robots. The interaction of philosophy and computer science/robotics brings deep questions about the nature of humans out in startling contrast. I teach a range of courses from the introductory level through upper division, including Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Feminist Ethics, and the Philosophy Capstone course. After earning a B.G.S. from the University of Michigan and a M.A. in philosophy from Wayne State University, I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy at Michigan State University in 2003, where my dissertation was titled "The Social Contract Tradition: Patriarchy, Artifice, and Reason."
Doctoral Student, Purdue University
I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theory and cultural studies at Purdue University. Generally, my research explores the interplay of structure and meaning in cultural artifacts so as to uncover systemic models and rationally interrogate their coherence. Particularly, I am interested in the work of neuroethics in science fiction. I manage the administrative and technological affairs for the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics, including website design and edits. As the Production Editor for the Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics, I oversee the post-acceptance publication process, from designing the journal production files and copyediting forthcoming articles against the in-house style guide to publishing the content and submitting it to indexing services. Moreover, in collaboration with Dr. Anderson, I coordinate conference logistics and implement overall CCN marketing strategies.
Ethical Urban Living Project
I have been a social worker for forty years. During that time I have worked as a civil servant, in private not for profit, in special education settings, in private practice, as a consultant for the Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey, and at the nation’s largest insurer authorizing care for autistics. I began my life as a full time academic and researcher in 2014. I received my BSW, MSW, Advanced Certificate in Clinical Practice and Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work at New York University where I was the Heilbein Scholar and the recipient of the Founders Day award. Later I taught in the Masters and Doctoral Social Work programs at NYU and in the undergraduate program at the Ramapo College of New Jersey. Currently I am the Human Behavior in the Social Environment lead at the University of Michigan-Flint. My current research interests concern human and civil rights abuses against members of the Autistic community. My research led me to develop a strength based theory of autism for Social Work. I also study the impact of anti-racist instruction in the classroom. Per the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), I am the only out Autistic Ph.D. level social worker, both nationally and globally. I have recently been appointed to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) committee on Disabilities and Persons with Disabilities. I am an ABA and special education survivor and am now dedicated to ceasing the torture and mistreatment of members of the Autistic population. I have worked as a gypsy cab driver in the Bronx, cleaned Holiday Inn toilets. (I hate to be a name dropper but I once cleaned Chuck Berry's toilet.) I have also worked as what was then called a "file girl" for a large corporation. (In my estimation the toilet cleaning was less polluted.)
Regarding events and publications,
Dr. Jami Anderson
Regarding the website and technical issues,
If you are interested in working with CCN, please fill out the following form, print it, and send it to us. We will then contact you if we believe a collaborative project will be feasible. If you have any questions, please contact us.
CCN Project Proposal Form
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University of Michigan-Flint
544 French Hall
303 East Kearsley Street
Flint, Michigan 48502
Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience
4800 South Saginaw Street
Flint, Michigan 48507