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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Are You Creeped Out by the Idea of a “Moral Enhancement” Pill?

Vanessa Rampton
Originally posted March 20, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

In its broad outlines, the idea of moral bioenhancement is as follows: Once we understand the biological and genetic influences on moral decision-making and judgments, we can enhance (read: improve) them with drugs, surgery, or other devices. A “morality pill” could shore up self-control, empathy, benevolence, and other desirable characteristics while discouraging tendencies toward violent aggression or racism. As a result, people might be kinder to their families, better members of their communities, and better able to address some of the world’s biggest problems such as global inequality, environmental destruction, and war.

In fact, the attempts of parents, educators, friends, philosophers, and therapists to make people behave better are already getting a boost from biology and technology. Recent studies have shown that neurological and genetic characteristics influence moral decision-making in more or less subtle ways. Some behaviors, like violent aggression, drug abuse and addiction, and the likelihood of committing a crime have been linked to genetic variables as well as specific brain chemicals such as dopamine. Conversely, evidence suggests that our ability to be empathetic, our tolerance of other racial groups, and our sensitivity to fairness all have their roots in biology. Assuming cutting-edge developments in neuroscience and genetics have been touted as able to crack the morality code, the search for a morality pill will only continue apace.

The article is here.