SPECIAL ISSUE

Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 561-587

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Natural Selection, Childrearing, and the Ethics of Marriage (and Divorce): Building a Case for the Neuroenhancement of Human Relationships

  • Brian D. EarpAffiliated withOxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford Email author 
  • , Anders SandbergAffiliated withOxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
  • , Julian SavulescuAffiliated withOxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

Abstract

We argue that the fragility of contemporary marriages—and the corresponding high rates of divorce—can be explained (in large part) by a three-part mismatch: between our relationship values, our evolved psychobiological natures, and our modern social, physical, and technological environment. “Love drugs” could help address this mismatch by boosting our psychobiologies while keeping our values and our environment intact. While individual couples should be free to use pharmacological interventions to sustain and improve their romantic connection, we suggest that they may have an obligation to do so as well, in certain cases. Specifically, we argue that couples with offspring may have a special responsibility to enhance their relationships for the sake of their children. We outline an evolutionarily informed research program for identifying promising biomedical enhancements of love and commitment.

Keywords

Neuroenhancement Love drugs Evolution Marital autonomy Default natural ethics Marriage Values Oxytocin