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Technological moral enhancement or traditional moral progress? Why not both?
  1. Joao Fabiano
  1. Department of Philosophy, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joao Fabiano, Department of Philosophy, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; jlafabiano{at}


A new argument has been made against moral enhancement by authors who are otherwise in favour of human enhancement. Additionally, they share the same evolutionary toolkit for analysing human traits as well as the belief that our current morality is unfit to deal with modern problems, such as climate change and nuclear proliferation. The argument is put forward by Buchanan and Powell and states that other paths to moral progress are enough to deal with these problems. Given the likely costs and risks involved with developing moral enhancement, this argument implies moral enhancement is an unpromising enterprise. After mentioning proposed solutions to such modern problems, I will argue that moral enhancement would help implement any of them. I will then detail Buchanan and Powell’s new argument disfavouring moral enhancement and argue that it makes too bold assumptions about the efficacy of traditional moral progress. For instance, it overlooks how that progress was to achieve even in relatively successful cases such as the abolition of slavery. Traditional moral progress is likely to require assistance from non-traditional means in order to face new challenges.

  • enhancement
  • philosophical ethics
  • applied and professional ethics

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  • Contributors JF is the sole author of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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