MORAL ENHANCEMENT BY TECHNOLOGICAL
MEANS: POSSIBLE, PERMISSIBLE, A DUTY?
Monika McCollister Pirc2
2Middle European interdisciplinary master programme in Cognitive Science (MEi:CogSci)
|INDECS 14(4), 344-352, 2016
Full text available here.
Received: 7th October 2016.
Attempts to enhance individual and communal morality are as old as human communal living itself. But only recently have philosophers, bioethicists and scientists begun to seriously consider the possibilities and implications of employing technological interventions into the human body, especially the brain, in order to enhance traits and capabilities that underlie what we might term as moral reasoning, action and behavior. Some illicit drugs, prescription pharmaceuticals and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques have been shown to have effects on diminishing or enhancing certain of our mental traits that constitute moral thinking, action and behavior in healthy adults. This hints at the possibility of targeted interventions that might predictably improve individual and communal morality and through it societal cooperation. The first part of the paper will delve into some of the conceptual issues connected with moral enhancement as part of the broader trend of cognitive enhancement and human enhancement in general. The second part will look at some experiments and interventions that support the plausibility of technologically enhancing moral reasoning and moral behavior. The third part will present some of the arguments that have been written both for and against moral enhancement, including whether we might in certain situations have a duty to morally enhance ourselves. The final part looks at some further dilemmas of whether we might already be enhancing ourselves morally through some commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, and what a (further) "medicalization" of moral deficits might mean.
moral enhancement, duty, neuroenhancement, pharmacological cognitive enhancement, virtue
APA: 2300, 2520, 2630, 2820, 3120, 3350, 3365, 3450
JEL: O32, O33