, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 29–36 | Cite as

Would Moral Enhancement Limit Freedom?

  • Antonio DiéguezEmail author
  • Carissa Véliz


The proposal of moral enhancement as a valuable means to face the environmental, technological and social challenges that threaten the future of humanity has been criticized by a number of authors. One of the main criticisms has been that moral enhancement would diminish our freedom. It has been said that moral enhancement would lead enhanced people to lose their ‘freedom to fall’, that is, it would prevent them from being able to decide to carry out some morally bad actions, and the possibility to desire and carry out these bad actions is an essential ingredient of free will, which would thus be limited or destroyed—or so the argument goes. In this paper we offer an answer to this criticism. We contend that a morally enhanced agent could lose (to a large extent) the ‘freedom to fall’ without losing her freedom for two reasons. First, because we do not consider that a morally well-educated person, for whom the ‘freedom to fall’ is a remote option, is less free than an evildoer, and there is no reason to suppose that bioenhancement introduces a significant difference here. Second, because richness in the amount of alternative possibilities of action may be restored if the stated loss is compensated with an improvement in sensitivity and lucidity that can lead to seeing new options and nuances in the remaining possible actions.


Moral enhancement Free will Freedom to fall Human bioenhancement 



We are very grateful to an anonymous referee for very helpful comments. Research for this work has been supported by the research projects FFI2012-37354 (Spanish Government), HUM-0264 and HUM-7248 (Junta de Andalucía), and project PAPIIT-UNAM  IN403613 (Mexico).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Filosofía, Facultad de Filosofía y LetrasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain
  2. 2.Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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