Meet a Member: Stephanie Hare

Steph_Hare HeadshotStephanie Hare is a first year PhD student in neuroscience at Georgia State University (GSU) and the recipient of the first doctoral Neuroethics (NE) research fellowship. Since coming to GSU, she has been afforded the opportunities to collaborate with both philosophers and psychologists, and to attend fascinating talks by speakers from across the country.

Currently, Steph is leading work on a paper (co-authored with her Ph.D. advisor Dr. Nicole Vincent) about whether the cognitive and behavioral neurosciences (CBN) might have anything useful to tell us about how we might best live a happy life. Might behavioral and imaging data reveal to us things about ourselves that we would otherwise be ignorant of — for instance, that we would be happier if we pursued a different career, or if we chose different life partners? They relate this discussion to a larger, looming normative question: Could the CBN data, at least in principle, tell us something about the lives that we ought to live? An early version of this paper was presented at the International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting on November 8, 2013 in San Diego.

Steph’s work on this paper reflects an enduring interest in the complex relationship between facts (based on sets of observations) and norms (that tell us how we ought to act). For example, suppose we discover that people tend to harbor a certain bias to discount the possibility, likelihood and general weight of future consequences. Put another way, suppose we discover that we are creatures that “live in the moment” and that we do so because we have certain psychological and neural features. Would this fact about how we function (a description of the types of creatures that we are) be a reason to revise responsibility practices including the broad field of criminal law?

Steph became enamored with this complex fact-norm relationship after taking a course on Kant’s ethics in 2012 while writing her MA thesis, which challenged normative claims advanced by prominent moral psychologist, Joshua Greene. Steph imagines that this topic – the relationship between norms and facts, especially facts from the mind sciences – will reverberate throughout her Ph.D. dissertation.

This semester Steph is taking Dr. Vincent’s Neuroscience and the Law seminar while helping Dr. Vincent organize a conference at GSU on Neuro-Interventions and the Law slated for September 12-14, 2014. In the summer she will jump into Dr. Jessica Turner’s (GSU, Psychology) neuroimaging lab to gain experience in analyzing data gathered from studies of schizophrenic populations.

Steph received her B.S. in neurobiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009, and her M.A in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago in 2012.

You can connect with Steph via email at share1@student.gsu.edu or use her Twitter handle, @NeuroSteph.

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