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Amoral enhancement
  1. Saskia E Verkiel1,2
  1. 1Neuroscience Institute, College of Arts & Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Department of Philosophy, College of Arts & Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Saskia E Verkiel, Neuroscience Institute, College of Arts & Sciences, Georgia State University, 100 Piedmont Ave SE, Atlanta, GA30303, USA; saskia.verkiel{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Moral enhancement can be an attractive proposal, but contrary to cognitive enhancement, it is hard to define what kind of intervention would constitute moral enhancement. In an ongoing debate about the subject, Douglas argued that biomedically decreasing countermoral emotions would do so and would be morally permissible in particular cases. Harris disagreed, and one of his arguments is that failing to address the intellectual aspects of moral decisions—and simply targeting countermoral emotions—would effectively undermine our freedom by reducing our options to act immorally. In a consequent paper, Douglas defended his position. In this paper, I examine Douglas' response to Harris concern about the loss of freedom with biomedical moral enhancement. I argue that Douglas' framework for moral reasoning on which he bases his argument that biomedical intervention is in some cases permissible lacks soundness, and that it apparently undermines morality. Harris insists that morality requires freedom of choice, yet Douglas and Harris have different conceptions of freedom of choice. Douglas' focus on quantity in his defence does not engage with Harris focus on quality of choice. Thus, the kind of biomedical enhancement that Douglas defends is not moral—nor immoral—but amoral enhancement.

  • Enhancement
  • Moral Psychology
  • Neuroethics
  • Disability
  • Capacity

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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