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Mind-Brain-Law is a multi-disciplinary discussion group for students, scholars and practitioners interested in the ethical, legal and social impact of the science and technology of the brain and mind.  Members come primarily from law, humanities, social sciences, sciences and medicine.  We select a recent interesting and important journal article to read and discuss, and we use it as a jumping off point to explore broader implications.

In the past, we have met in person, but are now going online due to the pandemic.  In the spirit of seizing the upside of this shift online, we are going international and taking the opportunity to invite the authors of our discussion papers to participate.

I will maintain a list of people interested in MBL in general, and will fill up to 15 spots for each discussion in the order with which people RSVP for each session.  Please contact me at to join the list and/or sign up for our sessions.  Please join us!

          Jennifer A Chandler
          Bertram Loeb Research Chair
          Interim Director, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics
          Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

November 17 – noon to 1 pm EST

Dr. Jonathan Pugh
Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre, University of Oxford

“Neurostimulation, doping, and the spirit of sport” – published 2020 in the journal Neuroethics

How to think about the use of neurostimulation devices like tDCS (trans-cranial direct current stimulation) to enhance athletic performance.  Is it impermissible doping or permissible training?  We’ll explore this issue with Jonathan, and use a series of discussion questions to consider the implications of the reasoning more broadly for the use of neurostimulation for performance enhancement in other contexts.

December 9 – 1 to 2 pm EST

Dr. Jan Christoph Bublitz
Assoc-Jr Professor, University of Hamburg, Germany

“What is wrong with hungry judges?  A case study of legal implications  of cognitive science”

We are learning more about the neurochemistry and psychology behind moral and legal decision-making.  What is not so clear is what to do with that information.  Does it allow us to evaluate the correctness of those decisions, and furnish a basis for review  or appeal?  If we identify systematic tendencies, might that form the basis for a reasonable apprehension of bias?  Come and unpack the idea that “justice is what the judge ate for breakfast” in the context of cognitive science.

January 12 – noon to 1 pm EST

Emily Walsh
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Philosophy, Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University

“Cognitive Transformation, Dementia, and the Moral Weight of Advance Directives” – published 2020 in the American Journal of Bioethics

Should a person’s earlier wishes, as expressed in advanced directives, be followed even when preferences may have changed as a result of the transformative experience of dementia?  Standard views in philosophy and law may strain against clinicians’ reluctance to implement prior directives that seem inconsistent with the apparent preferences and well-being of the patient with dementia.  These are important issues in Canada, with the Bentley case in BC and also continued interest in advance request for medical aid in dying.

February 18 – 4 to 5 pm EST

Dr. Marjorie Montreuil
Assistant Professor, Ingram School of Nursing, McGill University and the Douglas Research Centre

“Survey of Mental Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on the Everyday Ethics of Medical-Aid-in-Dying for People with a Mental Illness” – published 2020 in the Canadian Journal of Bioethics

Canadian law now allows for medical aid in dying (MAiD), but the eligibility criteria continue to be in flux.  After a Quebec Superior Court decision in 2019, which invalidated restrictions that patients must be at the end of life or that their natural death be reasonably foreseeable, the question of MAiD eligibility for people whose sole underlying condition was a mental illness came to the fore.  This highly contentious debate continues, with the recent Canadian bill responding to the Court decision excluding this group.  What are the arguments for and against that exclusion?  The stakes are undeniably high, and the views of stakeholders are of key importance.