Would Moral Enhancement Limit Freedom?

Topoi 38 (1):29-36 (2019)
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Abstract

The proposal of moral enhancement as a valuable means to face the environmental, technological and social challenges that threaten the future of humanity has been criticized by a number of authors. One of the main criticisms has been that moral enhancement would diminish our freedom. It has been said that moral enhancement would lead enhanced people to lose their ‘freedom to fall’, that is, it would prevent them from being able to decide to carry out some morally bad actions, and the possibility to desire and carry out these bad actions is an essential ingredient of free will, which would thus be limited or destroyed—or so the argument goes. In this paper we offer an answer to this criticism. We contend that a morally enhanced agent could lose the ‘freedom to fall’ without losing her freedom for two reasons. First, because we do not consider that a morally well-educated person, for whom the ‘freedom to fall’ is a remote option, is less free than an evildoer, and there is no reason to suppose that bioenhancement introduces a significant difference here. Second, because richness in the amount of alternative possibilities of action may be restored if the stated loss is compensated with an improvement in sensitivity and lucidity that can lead to seeing new options and nuances in the remaining possible actions.

Author's Profile

Carissa Véliz
University of Oxford

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