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Why Internal Moral Enhancement Might Be politically Better than External Moral Enhancement

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12152-016-9273-8

Cite this article as:
Danaher, J. Neuroethics (2016). doi:10.1007/s12152-016-9273-8


Technology could be used to improve morality but it could do so in different ways. Some technologies could augment and enhance moral behaviour externally by using external cues and signals to push and pull us towards morally appropriate behaviours. Other technologies could enhance moral behaviour internally by directly altering the way in which the brain captures and processes morally salient information or initiates moral action. The question is whether there is any reason to prefer one method over the other? In this article, I argue that there is. Specifically, I argue that internal moral enhancement is likely to be preferable to external moral enhancement, when it comes to the legitimacy of political decision-making processes. In fact, I go further than this and argue that the increasingly dominant forms of external moral enhancement (algorithm-assisted enhancement) may already be posing a significant threat to political legitimacy, one that we should try to address. Consequently, research and development of internal moral enhancements should be prioritised as a political project.


Moral enhancement Extended mind Ethical parity principle Political legitimacy 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • New Horizons Grant

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawNUI GalwayGalwayIreland

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