‘Unless they do not build cyborgs’ Ethics missing the point of cyborg constitution in neuroscientific trials? @ 5th Health, Culture and the Human Body Conference (Istanbul)

I’ll be presenting: “‘Unless they do not build cyborgs’ Ethics missing the point of cyborg constitution in neuroscientific trials?” at the Health, Culture and the Human Body. Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Genetics and Human Enhancement (4.-6. October 2018, Istanbul, Turkey).
You can find the program flyer here: HCHB flyer.


‘Unless they do not build cyborgs’ Ethics missing the point of cyborg constitution in neuroscientific trials? (Melike Şahinol, Orient-Institut Istanbul)

Neuroethics discussed several ethical implications for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology, also for Brain Computer/Machine Interfaces (BCI/BMI), as their usage in the medical field raise philosophical and ethical questions. These questions focus on neuroscientific trials or treatment that may concern ethical concepts like informed consent, free will, autonomy, patient rights, privacy and mind-reading (Clausen, 2010; Clausen & Levy, 2014; Müller, Clausen, & Maio, 2009). Broadly discussed is the anthropological figure of the cyborg (Haraway, 1991), linked to futuristic visions of human enhancement, transhumanism, etc. (Chatterjee & Farah, 2012; Downey & Dumit, 1997; Heikkila, 2015; Illes & Sahakian, 2011; Müller, 2010; Pickering, 1995; Schmitz, 2010). These neuroethical studies have often in common, that ethical arguments are less based on ethnographical fieldwork, looking at distributed interactions of human and machine, even at the practices of Neuroscientists in trials with BCI. So, what would it mean for Neuroethics, if the usage of BMI marks the constitution of an acting cyborg?

© EEG equipment, 2010, Şahinol

© EEG equipment, 2010, Şahinol

This paper examines how the constitution of a cyborg emerges within neuroscientific trials with BMI in cronical stroke looking on a micro level and describing, how Human and Machine act in an adaptive way. It does so through a description and an analysis of cyborgical actions within the BMI system. Based on a laboratory study and interviews with several neuro scientists/ surgeons, patient care takers, neuroethicists and patients who worked with BMI, I argue that if something or someone can be understood as a cyborg, his or her actions – within these organic and inorganic parts interact – should be performed circular. Since circularity is the first principle and central concept of cybernetics and actions are based on the circularity of biological and technical aspects, then one can also speak of an acting cyborg (Şahinol, 2016).

As one result of this work, we could rethink Neuroethics underlying ethical concerns with regards to the constitution of acting cyborgs.




Impressions from #stsdiaspora panel @easst2018

Slightly late, but better late than never here are some impressions from our panel “Colliding theories, cultures, and futures. STS view(s) beyond the horizon. Or: STS diaspora” at the EASST 2018 conference “Meetings – Making Science, Technology and Society together”:

Panel description
We invite contributions that focus on practices of Science and Technology in Society in different cultural, historical and theoretical settings (especially outside of the US and Europe), shedding light on heterogeneous ways S&T can be studied in Societies and be (per)formed now and in the future.

Long abstract

Insofar as the US and Europe, especially the UK, represents the “centre” of STS as a discipline, so does a canonical literature. The boundaries of the centre is shaped by its peripheries, multiple and fluctuating: research students in the centre who undertake their case studies in the elsewheres, new PhDs going back home to teach, local STS experts and its neighboring disciplines who aspire for international recognition; as well as academics in disciplines that are not traditionally associated with STS literatures who benefit from and hope to contribute to theories and debates of STS. The special session aims to bring up for discussion the centre-periphery relations that make up STS scholars together with its political implications.

Heterogeneous practices and interpretations in different cultural settings thus shape our understandings of Science and Technology in a wide variety of ways. Against this backdrop, we invite papers dealing with (i) STS meeting within the fieldworks’ situation, (ii) how STS researchers themselves influence their societal context (if so, is there a Western normativity in the way “doing STS at home”), (iii) how do S&T develop under colliding or meeting aspects of Western STS and “(Middle)Eastern” or “African”, etc., (iv) what differences in the understanding of S&T can be identified regarding this clash, (v) which socio-technical practices are developing under which previously unseen “new religiosities”, and finally (vi) we would like to find out how new alliances and forms of cooperation across borders can be possible, and how this may create new futures for STS.

You can find the abstracts for the #stsdiaspora panel here: STS_diaspora.


  • Melike Sahinol (Orient-Institute Istanbul)
  • Arsev Aydinoglu (Middle East Technical University)
  • Harun Kaygan (Middle East Technical University)
  • Cansu Guner-Birdal (Technical University of Munich)