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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Epistemology of Cognitive Enhancement

J. Adam Carter & Duncan Pritchard
Forthcoming in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy


A common epistemological assumption in contemporary bioethics held by both proponents and critics of non-traditional forms of cognitive enhancement is that cognitive enhancement aims at the facilitation of the accumulation of human knowledge.  This paper does three central things. First, drawing from recent work in epistemology, a rival account of cognitive enhancement, framed in terms of the notion of cognitive achievement  rather than knowledge, is proposed. Second, we outline and respond to an axiological objection to our proposal that draws from recent work by Leon Kass (2004), Michael Sandel (2009), and John Harris (2011) to the effect that ‘enhanced’ cognitive achievements are (by effectively removing obstacles to success) not worthy of pursuit, or are otherwise ‘trivial’.  Third, we show how the cognitive achievement account of cognitive enhancement proposed here fits snugly with recent active externalist approaches (e.g., extended cognition) in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

The paper is here.
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