L. Syd M. Johnson


  • Associate Professor of Philosophy, Humanities
  • Affiliate Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology
  • PhD, University at Albany, State University of New York


Dr. L. Syd M. Johnson's work in neuroethics and bioethics focuses on the ethical implications of developments in neuroscience, particularly those related to disorders of consciousness and traumatic brain injury. She is especially interested in issues of quality of life related to "halfway technologies" that can result in partial recovery, but leave patients profoundly disabled. Her research focuses on whether these so-called improvements enhance quality of life for persons with disorders of consciousness, how we should conceptualize quality of life in persons who lack the capacity to communicate or evaluate their own quality of life, and whether our conception of medical progress is suitable for thinking about disorders of consciousness. Her second area of research is on sport-related concussion, particularly in youth athletes, and the ethical implications of risky sports participation for children. A third area of scholarly interest arises from Dr. Johnson's work as a film critic, and considers the way that philosophically interesting questions are represented in pop culture, as well as the pedagogical potential of cinematic thought experiments. Dr. Johnson's work has been published in Neuroethics, American Journal of Bioethics, AJOB Neuroscience, Journal of Medical Ethics, and the Canadian Medical Association Journal.