, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 373–375 | Cite as

Enhancing Autonomy by Reducing Impulsivity: The Case of ADHD

  • Jonathan PughEmail author
Brief Communication


In a recent article in this journal, Schaefer et al. argue that it might be possible to enhance autonomy through the use of cognitive enhancements. In this article, I highlight an example that Schaefer et al. do not acknowledge of a way in which we already seem to be using pharmacological agents in a manner that can be understood as enhancing an agent’s autonomy. To make this argument, I begin by following other theorists in the philosophical literature in claiming that impulsivity can serve to undermine an agent’s autonomy. I then explain that we are already able to reduce impulsivity through the use of pharmacological interventions, as is evidenced by the use of Methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD.


Autonomy Enhancement Cognition Impulsivity 



I thank Julian Savulescu, Roger Crisp, Neil Levy and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on a previous draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uehiro Centre for Practical EthicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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