Neuroethics

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 223–234

Cognitive Enhancement, Virtue Ethics and the Good Life

Original Paper

Abstract

This article explores the respective roles that medical and technological cognitive enhancements, on the one hand, and the moral and epistemic virtues traditionally understood, on the other, can play in enabling us to lead the good life. It will be shown that neither the virtues nor cognitive enhancements (of the kind we have access to today or in the foreseeable future) on their own are likely to enable most people to lead the good life. While the moral and epistemic virtues quite plausibly are both necessary and sufficient for the good life in theory, virtue ethics is often criticised for being elitist and unachievable in practice for the vast majority. Some cognitive enhancements, on the other hand, might be necessary for the good life but are far from sufficient for such an existence. Here it will be proposed that a combination of virtue and some cognitive enhancements is preferable.

Keywords

Virtue Ethics Aristotle Cognitive Enhancement Moral virtue Epistemic virtue Neuro The good life Eudaimonia 

References

  1. 1.
    Baumeister. 2002. Yielding to temptation. Journal of Consumer Research 28: 670–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Beckham. 2004. Crime, Culpability, and the Adolescent Brain’. Science 305/5684: 596–9.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bostrom, and Sandberg. (2009). Cognitive enhancement: methods, ethics, regulatory challenges. forthcoming in Science and Engineering Ethics.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brasil-Neto, et al. 1992. Focal transcranial magnetic stimulation and response bias in a forced-choice task. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 55: 964–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buchanan. 2007. Institutions, beliefs and ethics: Eugenics as a case study. Journal of Political Philosophy 15/1: 22–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Buchanan. 2009. Philosophy and public policy: a role for social moral epistemology. Journal of Applied Philosophy 26(3): 276–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Buchanan, Brock, Daniels, and Wikler. 2000. From chance to choice. Genetics and justice. UK: CUP.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Catterjee. 2007. Cosmetic neurology and cosmetic surgery: parallels, predictions and challenges. Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 16: 129–137.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cho, M.M., A.C. DeVries, J.R. Williams, and C.S. Carter. 1999. The effects of oxytocin and vasopressin on partner preferences in male and female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Behavioral Neuroscience 113(5): 1071–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Crisp. 2006. Aristotle on greatness of soul. In Blackwell companion to the nicomachean ethics, ed. R. Kraut. UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Crisp, R., and M. Slote (eds.). 1997. Virtue ethics. UK: OUP.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Darley, and Batson. 1973. “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: a study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior. JPSP 27: 100–108.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Doris. 2002. Lack of character. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Douglas. (2008). Moral enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy 25(3).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Greene, and Haidt. 2002. How (and Where) does moral judgment work? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6: 517–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Greene, J.D., R.B. Sommerville, L.E. Nystrom, J.M. Darley, and J.D. Cohen. 2001. An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral Judgment. Science 293: 2105–2108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Haidt. 2001. The emotional dog and its rational tail: a social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychic Review 108: 814–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Haidt. 2004. Intuitive ethics; how innately prepared intuitions generate culturally variable virtues. Daedalus 133(4): 55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Harman. 1977. The nature of morality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Harman. 1999. Moral philosophy meets social psychology: virtue ethics and the fundamental attribution error. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 99: 315–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hursthouse. 1991. Virtue theory and abortion. Philosophy and Public Affairs 20(3): 223–246.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hutchinson. 1986. The virtues of Aristotle. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Insel, T.R., and T.J. Hulihan. 1995. A gender-specific mechanism for pair bonding-oxytocin and partner preference formation in monogamous voles. Behavioral Neuroscience 109(4): 782–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kahane and Shackel. (2010). Methodological problems in the neuroscience of moral judgment. forthcoming in Mind and Language.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kiesel, et al. 2007. Unconscious priming according to Multiple S-R Rules. Cognition 104/1: 89–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Knoch, et al. 2009. Diminishing reciprocal fairness by disrupting the right prefrontal cortex. Science 314/5800: 829–32.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kosfeld, et al. 2005. Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature 435: 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Levy. 2006. Cognitive scientific challenges to morality. Philosophical Psychology 19: 567–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Levy. 2007. Neuroethics; challenges for the 21st century. UK: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Levy. (2008). Empirically informed moral theory: a sketch of the landscape. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2009) 12: 3–8.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Liao. (2007). A defense of intuitions. Philosophical Studies 140(2) 2008: 247–262.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Liao, S. M., J. Savulescu, and D. Wasserman. (eds.) (2008). Special Issue: The Ethics of Enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy 25(3): 159–261.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Libet, et al. (eds.). 1999. The volitional brain. Charlottesville: Imprint Academic.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    MacIntyre. 1981. After virtue; a study in moral theory. USA: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Nair, H.P., and L.J. Young. 2006. Vasopressin and pair-bond formation: genes to brain to behavior. Physiology 21: 146–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Nussbaum. 1986. The fragility of goodness: luck and ethics in greek tragedy and philosophy. UK: CUP.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Nussbaum. (1990). Love’s knowledge. OUP.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Persson, and Savulescu. (2008). The perils of cognitive enhancement and the urgent imperative to enhance the moral character of humanity. Journal of Applied Philosophy 25(3). Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Roache, & Liao. (2009). ‘After Prozac’, forthcoming In Enhancing human capabilities. eds. J. Savulescu, R. ter Muelen, and G. Kahane, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sahakian, and Morein-Zamir. 2007. Professor’s little helper. Nature 450: 1157–1159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Sandel. 2007. The case against perfection. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Savuelscu, and Sandberg. 2008. Neuroenhancement of love and marriage: the chemicals between us. Neuroethics 1: 31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Savulescu, J., and N. Bostrom (eds.). 2009. Human enhancement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Singer. 2005. Ethics and intuition. The Journal of Ethics 9: 331–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Slote. 1983. Goods and virtues. New York: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Sorabji. (1973–74). Aristotle on the role of intellect in virtue. In Essays on Aristotle’s ethics, ed. A O. Rorty, 1980. University of California Press.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Street. (2006). A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value. Philosophical Studies 127.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Sturgeon. 1992. Non-moral explanations. Philosophical Perspectives 6: 99–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tancredi. 2005. Hardwired behavior. New York: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Tersman. 2008. The reliability of moral intuitions: a challenge from neuroscience. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(3): 389–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich. 2001. Normativity and epistemic intuitions. Philosophical Topics 29: 429–460.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wheatley, and Haidt. 2005. Hypnotic disgust makes moral judgments more severe. Psych Sci 16: 780–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Williams, J.R., T.R. Insel, C.R. Harbaugh, and C.S. Carter. 1994. Oxytocin administered centrally facilitates formation of a partner preference in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Journal of Neuroendocrinology 6(3): 247–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Winslow, J.T., N. Hastings, C.S. Carter, C.R. Harbaugh, and T.R. Insel. 1993. A role for central vasopressin in pair bonding in monogamous prairie voles. Nature 365(6446): 545–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Wang Z, Young L.J., De Vries G.J., Insel T.R. 1998. Voles and vasopressin: a review of molecular, cellular, and behavioral studies of pair bonding and paternal behaviors. Prog Brain Res. 119: 483–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lincoln CollegeOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations