British Medical Journal Blogs
Originally published August 29, 2019
Here is an excerpt:
If you could take a pill to make yourself a better person, would you do it? Could you justifiably make someone else do it, even if they do not want to?
When presented so simplistically, the idea might seem unrealistic or even impossible. The concepts of “taking a pill” and “becoming a better person” seem to belong to different categories. But many of the traits commonly considered to make one a “good person”—such as treating others fairly and kindly without violence—are psychological traits strongly influenced by neurobiology, and neurobiology c
an be changed using medicine. So when and how, if ever, should medicine be used to improve moral character?
Moral bioenhancement (MBE), the concept of improving moral character using biomedical technology, has fascinated me for years—especially once I learned that it has been hotly debated in the bioethics literature since 2008. I have greatly enjoyed diving into the literature to learn about how the concept has been analyzed and presented. Much of the debate has focused on its most abstract topics, like defining its terms and relating MBE to freedom. Although my fondness for analytic philosophy means that I cannot condemn anyone for working to examine ideas with maximum clarity and specificity, any MBE proponent who actually wants MBE to be implemented must focus on realistic methods.
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