Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 783–797 | Cite as

“This Position Requires Some Alteration of Your Brain”: On the Moral and Legal Issues of Using Neurotechnology to Modify Employees

  • Patrick D. Hopkins
  • Harvey L. FiserEmail author


Employers have long had programs for improving employee attitude and performance, from the simple such as free coffee in the break room to the more extensive such as gyms, counseling, team-building seminars, and skills training. Employees have also long used techniques for making themselves more competitive and productive for purposes of securing new positions or promotions. But what about more direct means of altering employee performance? Neurotechnology could allow for more powerful and precise methods of screening for desired traits and for modifying abilities—from memory to motivation to morality. In this paper, we examine the moral and legal issues of using neurotechnology in the employment context. We identify major types of technologies, the areas of employment where they might be used, and the moral and legal principles most likely to frame debates about use. We do not recommend a specific moral judgment but instead introduce the issues, describe the major possible policies that could be implemented to deal with employment neurotechnology, compare those policies to current ones, and lay out an analytical framework for further discussion based on the broad effectiveness of neurotechnology, balancing interests of employers and employees, and existing ethical and legal principles.


Adderall Americans with Disabilities Act Brain scans Cognitive enhancement Employment law Nootropics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMillsaps CollegeJacksonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities & Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  3. 3.Else School of ManagementMillsaps CollegeJacksonUSA

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