What Is the Philosophy of Neurosurgery? Systematic Review and Defining the Discipline

Author: Rajeev R Dutta1, Alexander Lopez2, Frank P K Hsu2, Michelle Paff2
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA. Electronic address: duttarr@hs.uci.edu. <sup>2</sup> Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, Irvine, Orange, CA.
Conference/Journal: World Neurosurg
Date published: 2024 Mar 15
Other: Pages: S1878-8750(24)00421-2 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2024.03.036. , Word Count: 250

Despite centuries of joint investigation of philosophy and neurological interventions, a founding account for the philosophy of neurosurgery has yet to be rigorously constructed or defended. This paper reviews recent work on the philosophy of neurosurgery, spanning metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory, to establish a framework and clinical relevance for study in the philosophy of neurosurgery.

A systematic review of an online database was conducted using the broad search terms, "Philosophy AND (Neurosurgery OR Neurological Surgery)." Records were included if they demonstrated relevance to the philosophy of neurosurgery and analytical rigor, but were excluded if solely legal, clinical, or ethical principles were considered without substantive discussion of underlying ethical frameworks and philosophical principles.

Of 8,025 candidates from online and print records, 16 records (14 from online sources and 2 from an edited volume) met inclusion criteria for the systematic review. Three dealt with metaphysics, three dealt with epistemology, four dealt with value theory, five dealt with metaphysics/epistemology, and one dealt with value theory/metaphysics. Questions of free will, consciousness, personal identity, neurosurgical knowledge, ascription of other minds, deontology, and minimalism, among others, were considered.

Based on identified studies, the philosophy of neurosurgery is defined as the discipline of rigorously and methodically addressing metaphysical, epistemological, and value-theoretic questions arising from physically intervening in the nervous system. We discuss future directions for questions within the philosophy of neurosurgery and consider their relevance for patient care and the practice of neurosurgery.

Keywords: epistemology; metaphysics; neurological surgery; neurosurgery; philosophy.

PMID: 38493892 DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2024.03.036