Better Brains, Better Selves? The Ethics of Neuroenhancements


The idea of enhancing our mental functions through medical means makes many people uncomfortable. People have a vague feeling that altering our brains tinkers with the core of our personalities and the core of ourselves. It changes who we are, and doing so seems wrong, even if the exact reasons for the unease are difficult to define. Many of the standard arguments against neuroenhancements—that they are unsafe, that they violate the distinction between therapy and enhancements, that they undermine equality, and that they will be used coercively—fail to show why the use of any such technologies is wrong in principle. Two other objections—the arguments that such changes undermine our integrity and that they prevent us from living authentic lives—will condemn only a few of the uses that are proposed. The result is that very few uses of these drugs are morally suspect and that most uses are morally permissible.