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This article draws attention to several common mistakes in thinking about biomedical enhancement, mistakes that are made even by some supporters of enhancement. We illustrate these mistakes by examining objections that John Harris has recently raised against the use of pharmacological interventions to directly modulate moral decision-making. We then apply these lessons to other influential figures in the debate about enhancement. One upshot of our argument is that many considerations presented as powerful objections to enhancement are really strong considerations in favour of biomedical enhancement, just in a different direction. Another upshot is that it is unfortunate that much of the current debate focuses on interventions that will radically transform normal human capacities. Such interventions are unlikely to be available in the near future, and may not even be feasible. But our argument shows that the enhancement project can still have a radical impact on human life even if biomedical enhancement operated entirely within the normal human range.

Original publication

DOI

10.1111/bioe.12045

Type

Journal article

Journal

Bioethics

Publication Date

02/2015

Volume

29

Pages

133 - 143

Keywords

enhancement, moral psychology, normal variation, status quo bias, Biomedical Enhancement, Citalopram, Decision Making, Emotions, Empathy, Ethical Analysis, Ethical Theory, Genetic Enhancement, Human Characteristics, Human Rights, Humans, Morals, Nootropic Agents, Serotonin, Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors