Does the Neuroscience Research on Early Stress Justify Responsive Childcare? Examining Interwoven Epistemological and Ethical Challenges by Bruce Maxwell and Eric Racine has been published in the most recent issue of Neuroethics:
This paper examines interwoven ethical and epistemological issues raised by attempts to promote responsive childcare practices based on neuroscience evidence on the developmental effects of early stress. The first section presents this “neuroscience argument for responsive early childcare”. The second section introduces some evidential challenges posed by the use of evidence from developmental neuroscience as grounds for parental practice recommendations and then advances a set of observations about the limitations of the evidence typically cited. Section three highlights the ethical implications of the neuroscience argument for responsive early childcare. It argues that the neuroscience argument, first, fuels unwarranted parental anxiety by unduly raising the stakes of families’ early childcare choices and, second, threatens public confidence in developmental science’s potential to inform childcare practices and policy that enhance children’s health and well being.