, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 75-87,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Feb 2009

The Future of Psychopharmacological Enhancements: Expectations and Policies

Abstract

The hopes and fears expressed in the debate on human enhancement are not always based on a realistic assessment of the expected possibilities. Discussions about extreme scenarios may at times obscure the ethical and policy issues that are relevant today. This paper aims to contribute to an adequate and ethically sound societal response to actual current developments. After a brief outline of the ethical debate concerning neuro-enhancement, it describes the current state of the art in psychopharmacological science and current uses of psychopharmacological enhancement, as well as the prospects for the near future. It then identifies ethical issues regarding psychopharmacological enhancements that require attention from policymakers, both on the professional and on the governmental level. These concern enhancement research, the gradual expansion of medical categories, off-label prescription and responsibility of doctors, and accessibility of enhancers on the Internet. It is concluded that further discussion on the advantages and drawbacks of enhancers on a collective social level is still needed.