Direct vs. Indirect Moral Enhancement

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 25 (3):261-289 (2015)
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Abstract
Moral enhancement is an ostensibly laudable project. Who wouldn’t want people to become more moral? Still, the project’s approach is crucial. We can distinguish between two approaches for moral enhancement: direct and indirect. Direct moral enhancements aim at bringing about particular ideas, motives or behaviors. Indirect moral enhancements, by contrast, aim at making people more reliably produce the morally correct ideas, motives or behaviors without committing to the content of those ideas, motives and/or actions. I will argue, on Millian grounds, that the value of disagreement puts serious pressure on proposals for relatively widespread direct moral enhancement. A more acceptable path would be to focus instead on indirect moral enhancements while staying neutral, for the most part, on a wide range of substantive moral claims. I will outline what such indirect moral enhancement might look like, and why we should expect it to lead to general moral improvement.
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Archival date: 2017-10-23
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