Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Moral Enhancement (Post III of III)

An issue of our future possibly including moral enhancements may be summed in the question: How we would be able to regulate and control these modifications? The Bioethics Commission holds three goals of neural modification:

“(1) Maintaining or improving neural health and cognitive function within the range of typical or statistically normal human functioning, (2) treating neurological disorders, and (3) expanding or augmenting neural function.”
  - Blog.bioethics.gov

Although the third goal presented here could be associated with efforts to reach radical human enhancements, the commission stresses their intentions as being only associated with modest cognitive enhancement.

One question that arises during such discussion is how might we make these enhancements available to the public? Some organizations view moral enhancement as a necessity for society as a whole, and feel we need all citizens to participate in order to create a more supportive, sympathetic society. Would we make this a regulation that people must follow by taking such medications each day? But that may only prove to be as effective as vaccinations are in the United States which only a portion of the population have opted for. Forcedly regulating individuals to take drugs to change their characteristics and personalities is drastically against citizens’ rights.


There is also an option of not requiring all citizens to participate in moral enhancements. Yet for this option, moral enhancements then fall under even more ethical questions similar to those interrogating human enhancement such as stamina, improved memory, etc. Even though moral enhancements could have many benefits for those who utilize them, these enhancements may only be available to those who have the money to pay for them: the higher socioeconomic classes. If one class were allowed to significantly improve morally while the other class remains then same, would they still want to help the immoral classes below them? As much research shows, drugs used currently in treatments (i.e. Prozac, Oxytocin, etc) do help improve empathy, but can also cause empathy to be concentrated within a group and lead individuals to be less empathetic to others who are outside the group.


As technology improves and research expands, many of these side effects and consequences of drugs may no longer apply to moral enhancement. But as we get closer to possible implementing moral enhancement into society, questions of regulation will continue to raise more issues.  

Interesting Links:



1 comment:

  1. As we inch ever-closer to the "brave new world" of soma-induced bliss...

    I wonder: is drug-induced empathy real? Or maybe that's the wrong question. Whatever has real effects is real enough. But is it admirable? As we enhance our capacities do we diminish our worthiness as moral agents? Certainly not, if we merely reinforce our most primordial tribal instincts and an "us against them" mentality.

    And yet, surely the judicious use of chemical intervention to smooth out the roughest edges of maladaptive social behavior would be a boon to society? Question is how we define "judicious"...