Autonomy and authenticity of enhanced personality traits

Bioethics 23 (6):360-374 (2009)
There is concern that the use of neuroenhancements to alter character traits undermines consumer's authenticity. But the meaning, scope and value of authenticity remain vague. However, the majority of contemporary autonomy accounts ground individual autonomy on a notion of authenticity. So if neuroenhancements diminish an agent's authenticity, they may undermine his autonomy. This paper clarifies the relation between autonomy, authenticity and possible threats by neuroenhancements. We present six neuroenhancement scenarios and analyse how autonomy accounts evaluate them. Some cases are considered differently by criminal courts; we demonstrate where academic autonomy theories and legal reasoning diverge and ascertain whether courts should reconsider their concept of autonomy. We argue that authenticity is not an appropriate condition for autonomy and that new enhancement technologies pose no unique threats to personal autonomy.
Keywords Prozac Defence  neuroenhancement  direct brain intervention  authenticity  neuroethics  autonomy  manipulation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2009.01725.x
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