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In this chapter, we take an analytic approach to the ethical debate on performance-enhancing substances, in two ways: a) we focus not on pharmacological enhancement in general, but on pharmacological enhancement in specific areas (as ethical issues of enhancement are different in different fields, e.g. sports, education, professions); b) we focus not on general normative arguments pro or con enhancement, but on the philosophical analysis of one specific intuition involved in those general normative discussions: that the use of enhancing substances reduces the praise for the agent’s accomplishments in sport and education . We call this the Less Praise Intuition (LPI). In this chapter, we aim to: explain why traditional justifications for LPI in terms of responsibility-shifting, authenticity, and cheating are not defensible (in their usual formulation); offer a new philosophical justification for LPI, based on the nature of activities; reformulate the core concerns behind the traditional arguments in terms of the nature of activity; show that, put in these terms, these concerns become more understandable; and finish by drawing out some general implications for the normative debate on human enhancement. One source of novelty in this chapter lies in its moving forward from the debate on performance-enhancing substances in sport towards new areas, in particular cognitive enhancement in education. Another is that in accordance with previous literature, our own empirical studies confirm that lay people have a negative attitude towards performance-enhancement in general, and this too prompts us to try to make a systematic evaluation of the normative justifications which may support this negative stance.



Book title

Cognitive Enhancement: Ethical and Policy Implications in International Perspectives


Oxford University Press

Publication Date