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Huang, Pei-hua. Moral Enhancement, Self-Governance, and Resistance
2018, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 43(5):547-567
Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Pei-hua Huang
John Harris recently argued that the moral bioenhancement proposed by Persson and Savulescu can damage moral agency by depriving recipients of their freedom to fall (freedom to make wrongful choices) and therefore should not be pursued. The link Harris makes between moral agency and the freedom to fall, however, implies that all forms of moral enhancement that aim to make the enhancement recipients less likely to “fall,” including moral education, are detrimental to moral agency. In this article, I present a new moral agency–based critique against the moral bioenhancement program envisaged by Persson and Savulescu. I argue that the irresistible influences exerted by the bioenhancement program harm our capabilities for conducting accurate self-reflection and forming decisions that truly express our will, subsequently undermining our moral agency.

Comment: This paper can be assigned as a further reading when teaching the moral enhancement debate. It provides students with a less explored perspective on moral agency in the debate (i.e. the feminist approach to autonomy and Confucianism). Students might find the discussion on the Confucian conception of moral saints in this paper especially interesting when contrasting the conception to the more western ones.

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