The Morality of Moral Neuroenhancement

In Clausen Jens & Levy Neil (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer (forthcoming)
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This chapter reviews recent philosophical and neuroethical literature on the morality of moral neuroenhancements. It first briefly outlines the main moral arguments that have been made concerning moral status neuroenhancements. These are neurointerventions that would augment the moral status of human persons. It then surveys recent debate regarding moral desirability neuroenhancements: neurointerventions that augment that the moral desirability of human character traits, motives or conduct. This debate has contested, among other claims (i) Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu’s contention that there is a moral imperative to pursue the development of moral desirability neuroenhancements, (ii) Thomas Douglas’ claim that voluntarily undergoing moral desirability neuroenhancements would often be morally permissible, and (iii) David DeGrazia’s claim that moral desirability neuroenhancements would often be morally desirable. The chapter discusses a number of concerns that have been raised regarding moral desirability neuroenhancements, including concerns that they would restrict freedom, would produce only a superficial kind of moral improvement, would rely on technologies that are liable to be misused, and would frequently misfire, resulting in moral deterioration rather than moral improvement.

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Thomas Douglas
University of Oxford


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