Research

Links to publications accessible by scrolling pointer over project descriptions

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of neuroscience

Together with Dennis Patterson, Sofia Moratti has co-edited a comparative study entitled: "Legal Insanity and the Brain: Science, Law and European Courts" (Oxford: Hart-Bloomsbury, 2016). The volume features contributions by prominent experts based in the US, Sweden, England and Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy. It is an interdisciplinary study of the use of brain scans to support the defence of insanity in criminal processes in various European legal systems. It presents the public, scholarly, professional and political debate on issues that emerge in judicial practice, enriched with empirical data, in a socio-legal perspective.

Another project of Sofia is an interdisciplinary study of the use of brain imaging as a diagnostic and a communicative tool in major disorders of consciousness.

Fertility control, reproductive rights and prenatal diagnostics

Together with political philosopher Emanuela Ceva, Sofia Moratti investigated the regulation of the distribution of, and the debate surrounding the use of, Emergency Hormonal Contraception in Italy. This topic was recently at the center of a very heated political debate.

Sofia contributed an invited chapter, entitled "Fertility Control in a Global Perspective", to the Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics edited by H. Ten Have (Springer).

She is currently working on a project on the regulation of, and the political and societal debate on, prenatal diagnostics in Norway. Her research is cross-disciplinary and it includes an analysis of the ethical arguments used in the debate.

Medical-decision making in different European countries

Sofia Moratti investigated the operalization of the concept of 'medical futility' in Dutch neonatology. 'Medical futility' is conceptualized as a ground for foregoing life-prolonging medical treatment. Sofia carried out an empirical study of the decision making process in two Dutch Neonatal Intensive Care Units, focussing on doctors' definition of 'quality of life', on the role of the baby's parents and of their ability to take care of the baby in the decision making process. Sofia also studied the process of regulation of end-of-life decisions in neonatology in the Netherlands in a historical perspective.

In addition, together with sociologist Cristiano Vezzoni, Sofia contributed the chapter on the Netherlands to a European comparative study on Advance Medical Treatment Directives and on their use in nursing home practice.

For a European comparative study, Sofia carried out a review of the regulation of, intra-professional, public and political debate about, and medical practice (to the extent that it is known) of end-of-life decisions in Italy.

Sofia got particularly interested in a very controversial end-of-life case involving a woman in a Permanent Vegetative State. The life-prolonging treatment of the woman was withdrawn in 2009 after many years of judicial proceedings; the case caused considerable political turmoil and attracted national and international media attention.

Together with neonatologist Maria Serenella Pignotti, Sofia Moratti discussed the  controversy surrounding decisions to resuscitate or not to resuscitate extremely premature newborns in Italy, in particular the role of the medical profession in the debate and in the decision making process in individual cases and the stance of the Ministry of Health on the issue.

Literature

In addition to her main research area, Sofia is interested in literature, in particular Italian literature. She contributed a paper to a comprehensive volume on the life and works of Italian writer Italo Svevo.