At a TEDx conference in Barcelona last month, Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu shared his views on using medicine and technology for “moral enhancement”. According to Savulescu, humans urgently need to develop their moral capacities if we are to solve the range of “problems we have created for ourselves” (such as high rates of murder and sexual assault). Savulescu discusses the moral enhancement brought about by drugs like Oxytocin and Ritalin—we need more of these moral medicines, he claims, if we are to survive the coming decades.
Aug 8, 2013
Will the Posthuman Age be Postmoral?by Daryl Wennemann
A great part of the anxiety associated with the prospect of a posthuman age arises from the possibility that a posthuman age will also be a postmoral age. Francis Fukuyama’s work Our Posthuman Future focused on the possibility that genetically altered human beings might be incapable of recognizing traditional moral boundaries. The traditional Western ideal of the equality of all human persons seems to vanish with the development of superhuman beings.
Aug 8, 2013
Dirty Liberals! Cleanliness Priming of Moral CognitionChangesurfer Radio
Dr. J. chats with Erik Helzer (Dept of Psychology, Cornell University) co-author of the paper “Dirty Liberals!: Reminders of physical cleanliness influence moral and political attitudes” in Psychological Science. They discuss the growing literature on the ways that political attitudes are driven by disgust sensitivity, and by disgust priming such as bad smells and sticky hands. Listen also to the 2004 Changesurfer interview with Martha Nussbaum about her book Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law. (First broadcast April 5, 2011)
Jul 31, 2013
Morality Substitutes or Moral Enhancement?by Richard Stallman
In this response to John Danaher’s piece on Moral Enhancement (Part 1, Part 2,Part 3) Richard Stallman interrogates the difference between morality substitutes and morality enhancers, and the role of cognition in moral behavior.
Jul 31, 2013
It’s Hard to be a Fat Transhumanistby J. Hughes
It’s hard to be fat in general, but as a spokesperson for a movement purporting to advocate the evolution of humanity to greater health, ability and longevity I was always embarrassed about the weight I was carrying around. (I have a New Yorker cartoon on my wall of a fat man telling a disappointed thin man “I’m from your future.”) Recently through cyborgification I’ve been able to get back into my recommended weight range. Knowing that some of my friends are either curious if I’m seriously ill, or how I accomplished this, I thought I’d share the story.
Jul 21, 2013
Moral Enhancement and Superficiality (pt3)by John Danaher
Suppose you are an athlete, training for the Olympic games. Your coach enters your changing room one morning and offers you a choice. You can either follow a rigorous training program for the next six months, or you can take a handful of magic pills and take the next six months off. Either way you’ll be prepared for the Olympic games. Which should you choose?
Jul 18, 2013
Virtue Theory and Moral EnhancementCENTERBIOETHICS
IEET Executive Director James Hughes discussed the relevance of virtue theory to the moral enhancement debate at the “Enhancement: Cognitive, Moral and Mood” conference May 14-16, 2013 in Belgrade Serbia.
Jul 15, 2013
Moral Enhancement and Superficiality: Compassion-Pills (pt2)by John Danaher
As you may have observed, I’m repeatedly drawn to the enhancement debate. I can’t exactly say why. Prima facie, it doesn’t seem particularly interesting (from an intellectual perspective): after all, who could object to “enhancement”? But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. Indeed, one of the alluring aspects of the debate has to do with the terminology in which it is couched.
Jul 14, 2013
Moral Enhancement and Superficiality: Compassion-Pills (pt1)by John Danaher
If you could take a pill that would make you more moral, would you do it? It sounds attractive. I know that I often fail to be as compassionate or as charitable as I ought to be. If there was some way for me to overcome these moral failings I would be inclined to take it. But if I took, say, a compassion-pill would my actions be tainted thereafter? Would they be less morally commendable than they might otherwise have been?
Jul 3, 2013
Doping, Slippery Slopes and Moral Virtuesby John Danaher
Mike McNamee Sports, Vices and Virtues: Morality Plays: Part one of this essay discusses SSAs in general; part two looks at McNamee’s SSA against doping; and part three looks at McNamee’s complaints about the vices of athletes who dope. Just note that although “doping” has a particular meaning in sport, one that may be thought distinct from “performance enhancement”, the terms are used interchangeably in what follows.