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Bortolotti, Lisa, , John Harris. Disability, Enhancement, and the Harm-Benefit Continuum
2006, In John R. Spencer & Antje Du Bois-Pedain (eds.), Freedom and Responsibility in Reproductive Choice. Hart Publishers.
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Abstract: Suppose that you are soon to be a parent and you learn that there are some simple measures that you can take to make sure that your child will be healthy. In particular, suppose that by following the doctor’s advice, you can prevent your child from having a disability, you can make your child immune from a number of dangerous diseases and you can even enhance its future intelligence. All that is required for this to happen is that you (or your partner) comply with lifestyle and dietary requirements. Do you and your partner have any moral reasons (or moral obligations) to follow the doctor’s advice? Would it make a difference if, instead of following some simple dietary requirements, you consented to genetic engineering to make sure that your child was free from disabilities, healthy and with above average intelligence? In this paper we develop a framework for dealing with these questions and we suggest some directions the answers might take.

Comment: This paper is an especially good inclusion in any bioethics course that has units on both disability and enhancement, covering issues at the intersection of these topics – indeed, it could be used quite effectively as a “transition paper”, bridging a unit on the former topic with a unit on the latter. The piece pairs particularly well with Michael Sandel’s, “The Case Against Perfection”, and should be suitably accessible to all students, requiring very little philosophical background.

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Ciurria, Michelle, , . Is There a Duty to Use Moral Neurointerventions?
2017, Topoi 38(1): 37-47.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Emma Gordon

Abstract: Do we have a duty to use moral neurointerventions to correct deficits in our moral psychology? On their surface, these technologies appear to pose worrisome risks to valuable dimensions of the self, and these risks could conceivably weigh against any prima facie moral duty we have to use these technologies. Focquaert and Schermer (Neuroethics 8(2):139–151, 2015) argue that neurointerventions pose special risks to the self because they operate passively on the subject-s brain, without her active participation, unlike ‘active- interventions. Some neurointerventions, however, appear to be relatively unproblematic, and some appear to preserve the agent-s sense of self precisely because they operate passively. In this paper, I propose three conditions that need to be met for a medical intervention to be considered low-risk, and I say that these conditions cut across the active/passive divide. A low-risk intervention must: (i) pass pre-clinical and clinical trials, (ii) fare well in post-clinical studies, and (iii) be subject to regulations protecting informed consent. If an intervention passes these tests, its risks do not provide strong countervailing reasons against our prima facie duty to undergo the intervention.

Comment: Proposes an account of low-risk medical interventions and argues that the risks attached to moral enhancements falling into this category are insufficient to provide us with strong reasons against our duty to undergo the intervention. Useful to read when exploring the issue of whether we are obligated to morally enhance (as e.g. Savulescu and Persson have argued).

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Kraemer, Felicitas, , . Authenticity Anyone? The Enhancement of Emotions via Neuro-Psychopharmacology
2011, Neuroethics 4(1): 51-64.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Emma Gordon

Abstract: This article will examine how the notion of emotional authenticity is intertwined with the notions of naturalness and artificiality in the context of the recent debates about ‘neuro-enhancement- and ‘neuro-psychopharmacology.- In the philosophy of mind, the concept of authenticity plays a key role in the discussion of the emotions. There is a widely held intuition that an artificial means will always lead to an inauthentic result. This article, however, proposes that artificial substances do not necessarily result in inauthentic emotions. The literature provided by the philosophy of mind on this subject usually resorts to thought experiments. On the other hand, the recent literature in applied ethics on ‘enhancement- provides good reasons to include real world examples. Such case studies reveal that some psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants actually cause people to undergo experiences of authenticity, making them feel ‘like themselves- for the first time in their lives. Beginning with these accounts, this article suggests three non-naturalist standards for emotions: the authenticity standard, the rationality standard, and the coherence standard. It argues that the authenticity standard is not always the only valid one, but that the other two ways of assessing emotions are also valid, and that they can even have repercussions on the felt authenticity of emotions. In conclusion, it sketches some of the normative implications if not ethical intricacies that accompany the enhancement of emotions.

Comment: Discusses how the idea of authenticity relates to debates on enhancement. Best read after literature exploring different types of cognitive and emotional enhancement.

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