Pledge by Neuroscientists to Refuse to Participate in the Application of Neuroscience to Violations of Basic Human Rights or International Law.
We are Neuroscientists who desire that our work be used to enhance human life rather than to diminish it. We are concerned with the possible use of Neuroscience for purposes that violate fundamental human rights and international law. We seek to create a culture within the field of Neuroscience in which contributions to such uses are unacceptable.
Thus, we oppose the application of Neuroscience to torture and other forms of coercive interrogation or manipulation that violate human rights and personhood. Such applications could include drugs that cause excessive pain, anxiety, or trust, and manipulations such as brain stimulation or inactivation.
Thus, we also oppose the application of Neuroscience to aggressive war. Aggressive war is illegal under international law, where it is defined as a war that is not in self defense. A government which engages in aggressive wars should not be provided with tools to engage more effectively in such wars. Neuroscience can and does provide such tools. Examples include drugs which enhance the effectiveness of soldiers on one side, drugs which damage the effectiveness of soldiers on the other side, and robots that move, perceive, and kill.
As Neuroscientists we therefore pledge:
a) To make ourselves aware of the potential applications of our own work and that of others to applications that violate basic human rights or international law such as torture and aggressive war.
b) To refuse to knowingly participate in the application of Neuroscience to violations of basic human rights or international law.